NSF awards $6M to develop purification membranes for large-scale manufacturing of viral vectors

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

August 19, 2022 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $6 million grant to researchers at the University of Arkansas and two partner institutions to develop purification membranes for future large-scale manufacturing of viral vectors and viruslike particles.

The University of Arkansas researchers (in collaboration with colleagues at Clemson University and the University of Kentucky) will create a scalable, downstream manufacturing platform for purification that will replace the standard processes of centrifugation and resin-based chromatography, both of which are difficult to scale up in manufacturing.

The effort will require feedstock production of two common viral vectors for gene therapy, viruslike particles for vaccine applications, and advanced microfiltration for bioreactor harvesting. In addition, the researchers will design, fabricate, and characterize high-capacity membranes and will develop membrane chromatography for separating full and empty viral capsids.

"Development of cost-effective, large-scale biomanufacturing for the purification of viral vectors and viruslike particles is a major challenge," Xianghong Qian, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas and principal investigator for the project, said in a statement.

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