Overcoming Biopharmaceutical Interferents for Quantitation of Host Cell DNA Using an Automated, High-Throughput Methodology

AAPS J. 2022 Dec 8;25(1):10. doi: 10.1208/s12248-022-00764-4.


The rapid development of biologics and vaccines in response to the current pandemic has highlighted the need for robust platform assays to characterize diverse biopharmaceuticals. A critical aspect of biopharmaceutical development is achieving a highly pure product, especially with respect to residual host cell material. Specifically, two important host cell impurities of focus within biopharmaceuticals are residual DNA and protein. In this work, a novel high-throughput host cell DNA quantitation assay was developed for rapid screening of complex vaccine drug substance samples. The developed assay utilizes the commercially available, fluorescent-sensitive Picogreen dye within a 96-well plate configuration to allow for a cost effective and rapid analysis. The assay was applied to in-process biopharmaceutical samples with known interferences to the dye, including RNA and protein. An enzymatic digestion pre-treatment was found to overcome these interferences and thus allow this method to be applied to wide-ranging, diverse analyses. In addition, the use of deoxycholate in the digestion treatment allowed for disruption of interactions in a given sample matrix in order to more accurately and selectively quantitate DNA. Critical analytical figures of merit for assay performance, such as precision and spike recovery, were evaluated and successfully demonstrated. This new analytical method can thus be successfully applied to both upstream and downstream process analysis for biologics and vaccines using an innovative and automated high-throughput approach.

Keywords: Automated assay development; Biological development; DNA quantification; Enzymatic digestion; Fluorescence; High-throughput experimentation; Process research and development; Protein interference; RNA interference; Vaccine development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products*
  • DNA
  • Research Design
  • Vaccines*


  • Biological Products
  • DNA
  • Vaccines