Biotherapeutics, molecules produced from biological systems, require rigorous purification steps to remove impurities including host cell proteins (HCPs). Regulatory guidelines require manufacturers to monitor process-related impurities along the purification workflow. Mass spectrometry (MS) has recently been considered as a complementary method to the well-established ELISA for HCPs quantification, since it has the advantage of unambiguously identifying individual HCP. In this study, we developed an innovative standard dedicated to MS-based HCP-profiling analysis in order to monitor the consistency of viral vaccine intermediate purification samples. This standard, termed the HCP-PROFILER standard, is composed of a water-soluble bead (READYBEADS technology) which, after being added into the sample, releases unlabeled peptides in controlled amounts. The standard meets three desired criteria: (1) it is composed of multiple peptides, at different concentration levels, allowing construction of a calibration curve covering the dynamic range of HCPs present in the target sample, ensuring quantification accuracy; (2) it demonstrates high batch-to-batch reproducibility, ensuring quantification robustness and consistency over time; and (3) it is easy to use and avoids user-induced analytical biases.
In this study, we present the use of the HCP-PROFILER standard for vaccine batches comparison and downstream process performance studies.