An interim evaluation of BRIC was conducted in 2009. Alongside this, a Working Group on future activities of BRIC put together a report analysing the needs of industry in this area and identifying whether further research council support was necessary to underpin the needs of the UK bioprocessing industry. Both the Working Group report and the evaluation recommended the launch of a second phase of BRIC to continue the work that was done in BRIC phase 1 and also to work on challenges that have so far been unaddressed.
A second phase, BRIC2, was launched in March 2010 with a further £10.6 million investment over five years from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry members. Twenty-three additional research projects were funded through two rounds of funding.
A two-pronged approach was taken for the first call, with a standard call, an outline and full stage, running alongside a call for ‘enabling funds’, which were short-term projects of up to £100,000 in value and 12 months in duration intended to work on particularly difficult areas of research. BRIC 2 continues to develop the UK bioprocessing community through dissemination meetings twice a year.
Invitations for full proposals from the outline stage were submitted by June 2012. BRIC 2.2 grants were assessed in a Steering Group meeting in November 2012 and formally announced in February 2013.
BRIC 2.2 research investment was targeted in the following priority areas:
- bioprocessing challenges for protein and their host cell producers
- high-throughput bioprocess development
- effective modelling of whole bioprocesses
- robust and effective analytics for bioprocessing
- bioprocessing research for cellular products.
BRIC 2.2: 12 additional SRG projects have been funded with a value of approx. £6.5 million.
- Application of ATR-FTIR to industrial scale production of therapeutic antibodies
- Investigation of optimal gel conditions for stem cell preservation at room temperature and scaling up of the selected methodology
- Multi-modal fluorescence spectroscopy for online analysis of proteins in bioprocesses
- Application of single cell metabolite profiling to optimisation of stem cell bioprocessing
- Development of nanopatterned substrates for the delivery of high quality stem cells
- Expansion of human mesenchymal stem cells in aqueous / aqueous two phase systems
- Linking recombinant gene sequence to protein product manufacturability using CHO cell genomic resources
- Development of an integrated continuous process for recombinant protein production using Pichia pastoris
- Development of new-generation bacterial secretion process platforms
- Commercial scale manufacture of adult allogeneic cell therapy for regenerative medicine
- Improving biopharmaceutical production in microbial systems: Engineering GlycoPEGylation in E.coli
- Bioprocessing of high concentration protein solutions: quality by digital design approach.
The first call of BRIC 2.1 focused on:
- overarching BRIC themes – underpinning science and new tools for bioprocessing
- underpinning business drivers in case for BRIC2
- industrial priority areas identified by BRIC members
- Full Standard Research Grants (SRGs) and Enabling Funds (EFs).
BRIC 2.1 research grants -SRG – £3.7 million was awarded:
- Bioprocessing research for cellular products
- Developing generic scalable and standardised selection methods for human therapeutic cells
- A platform for the optimisation of metabolic pathways for glycosylation to achieve a narrow and targeted glycoform distribution
- Elucidating aggregation mechanisms in antibody fragment-based therapeutics to improve their manufacturability
- Predictable protein production
- Understanding and predicting aggregation in biopharmaceuticals.
BRIC 2.1 Enabling fund grants – EF – £421,000 was awarded:
- Cold chain storage and distribution of therapeutic mammalian cell cultures, including stem cells, using sol-gel technology
- Microfabricated cantilever methods as nanoscale screens for early indicators of protein aggregation; a feasibility study
- Systems optimisation of host cell tRNA usage and codon decoding for the improvement of bioprocessing parameters
- Real time flux modelling in biopharmaceutical bioprocessing
- De novo sequencing of the Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell genome.
Dr Mark Bustard, BRIC Coordinator
Telephone: 07920 202649