Cell culture-based production of defective interfering influenza A virus particles in perfusion mode using an alternating tangential flow filtration system

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 Sep 14;1-14. doi: 10.1007/s00253-021-11561-y. Online ahead of print.


Respiratory diseases including influenza A virus (IAV) infections represent a major threat to human health. While the development of a vaccine requires a lot of time, a fast countermeasure could be the use of defective interfering particles (DIPs) for antiviral therapy. IAV DIPs are usually characterized by a large internal deletion in one viral RNA segment. Consequentially, DIPs can only propagate in presence of infectious standard viruses (STVs), compensating the missing gene function. Here, they interfere with and suppress the STV replication and might act "universally" against many IAV subtypes. We recently reported a production system for purely clonal DIPs utilizing genetically modified cells. In the present study, we established an automated perfusion process for production of a DIP, called DI244, using an alternating tangential flow filtration (ATF) system for cell retention. Viable cell concentrations and DIP titers more than 10 times higher than for a previously reported batch cultivation were observed. Furthermore, we investigated a novel tubular cell retention device for its potential for continuous virus harvesting into the permeate. Very comparable performances to typically used hollow fiber membranes were found during the cell growth phase. During the virus replication phase, the tubular membrane, in contrast to the hollow fiber membrane, allowed 100% of the produced virus particles to pass through. To our knowledge, this is the first time a continuous virus harvest was shown for a membrane-based perfusion process. Overall, the process established offers interesting possibilities for advanced process integration strategies for next-generation virus particle and virus vector manufacturing.Key points• An automated perfusion process for production of IAV DIPs was established.• DIP titers of 7.40E + 9 plaque forming units per mL were reached.• A novel tubular cell retention device enabled continuous virus harvesting.

Keywords: Alternating tangential flow filtration (ATF); Antiviral; Bioreactor; Cell culture–based production; Defective interfering particles (DIPs); Influenza A virus; Perfusion cultivation.