Bioprocessing Technology Institute
20 Biopolis Way
Participating in a ceremony and symposium at BTI on February 27, 2017 were (l. to r.) Dr. Terry Nguyen-Khuong, Scientist, Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI); Professor Pauline Rudd, National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training, Dublin, Ireland; Professor Kong Peng Lam, Executive Director, Bioprocessing Technology Institute; Mathieu Laouenon, General Manager, South Asia, Waters Corporation; and Eric Fotheringham, Director – Waters Centers of Innovation Program.
Waters Honors Singapore’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) for Glycoscience Research
(view news release here)
Established in 2003, the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) is a research institute under Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Since its establishment, BTI has developed broad and deep capabilities in the highly specialized field of bioprocessing science and engineering.
In addition to spearheading research to support Singapore as a biomedical science and biomanufacturing hub in Asia, BTI also nurtures talents to support the biomedical industry. Through its Bioprocess Internship Programme (BIP) BTI trains scientists and engineers with advanced, specialised knowledge and practical skills in biomanufacturing. Many have gone on to leadership positions in prominent biopharmaceutical companies, a testament to the success of such training programmes.
Professor Kong-Peng Lam is Executive Director of BTI. “Over the past 13 years, more than 220 of our staff have joined the manufacturing and R&D industries. This is good for BTI and the staff. For them, it's career advancement and progression. They can see what they have learnt in the institute being applied to the real world and benefiting the patients. For us, it is good that we have a turnover of scientists to refresh the institute and, frequently, when these scientists go into industry, they become our ambassadors,” he said.
Collaborating With Industry to Advance Biotherapeutic Research and Manufacturing
In human health, glycans are involved in myriad processes that are part of normal physiology, development, and cell signaling, along with the development of both chronic and infectious diseases.
BTI engages with industry collaborators boost innovative R&D into protein drugs that target new diseases and are safer for patients. Another goal of these collaborations is to address the critical need in the biopharmaceutical industry for novel technology platforms that can support detailed glycan analysis quickly and effectively.
In 2016, Waters and BTI announced a collaboration to develop a glycoconjugate database and spectral library that would assist researchers using mass spectrometry in identifying glycans in their samples. The Waters-BTI collaboration will leverage BTI’s expertise in glycomics for the development of analytical methods and a library of information on GSLs that doesn’t exist today, in order to probe for potential clinical markers and to provide insights into disease progression and regression following therapeutic intervention.
Such a database is vital for the purposes of accurate, high-throughput identification of glyco-biologics discovery, development and production.
The collaboration with Waters also allows BTI to be part of an international glycomics research network pioneering technologies required to determine the potential association between GSL glycosylation and any phenotypic/genotypic traits in disease or disease states.
“Given the increasing importance of glycobiology, industry collaborations such as the Waters-BTI collaboration are the key for developing disruptive technological improvements in glyco-analytics and its application to the bioprocessing space,” noted Professor Lam.
To achieve its objectives, BTI is using a Waters® SYNAPT® G2-S High Definition Mass Spectrometry® System. The instrument features ion mobility mass spectrometry technology that rapidly separates molecular ions by not only their size and mass-to-charge ratio, but by their shape. It also calculates a collisional cross-section (CCS) value for each molecular ion. The ability to identify glycans based on their CCS value reveals insights into their unique chemical structure that provides a higher degree of specificity than using just mass-to-charge ratio alone.
Advancing Research in Biopharmaceutical Characterization
More than two thirds of recombinant biopharmaceutical products on the market are glycoproteins, and nearly every stage of their manufacture is carefully monitored and regulated to ensure consistency in quality, safety, and effectiveness. Consequently, international regulatory agencies require use of state-of-the-art glycan analyses methods to help ensure the successful development and commercialization of effective and safe glycosylated biotherapeutics.
From a bioprocessing perspective, BTI is continuously developing high resolution and throughput glyco-analytical platforms which are used to monitor a biologics critical quality attributes (CQAs) such as structural analysis, site occupancy and relative abundance of glycans to ensure the safety and efficacy of biopharmaceutical products.
To this end, the Analytics Group at BTI led by Professor Pauline Rudd and Dr Terry Nguyen-Khuong, is focused on developing multi-attribute methods to characterize and analyse glycosylation for the purposes of discovery and translational sciences and bioprocessing industry.
A First for Waters Centers of Innovation Program
BTI is the first research institute focused on glycobiology to participate in the Waters Centers of Innovation Program. “I am delighted that BTI has been recognized by Waters for its expertise in glycomics. Through this collaboration, BTI will be able to advance cancer biomarker research and further cement Singapore’s position as a key player in biologics,” noted Professor Lam. “This recognition by Waters underlines the importance of the integrated research programs that are fundamental to the success of BTI.”