Technical advances facilitating genetic manipulation of animal cells now allow routine production of therapeutic proteins in such systems. The major advantage of these systems is their ability to carry out post-translational modification of the protein product. As a result, many biopharmaceu-ticals that are naturally glycosylated are now produced in animal cell lines. CHO and BHK cells have become particularly popular in this regard.
Although their ability to carry out post-translational modifications renders their use desirable/essential for producing many biopharmaceuticals, animal cell-based systems do suffer from a number of disadvantages. When compared with E. coli, animal cells display a very complex nutritional requirement, grow more slowly and are far more susceptible to physical damage. In industrial terms, this translates into increased production costs.
In addition to recombinant biopharmaceuticals, animal cell culture is used to produce various other biologically based pharmaceuticals. Chief amongst these are a variety of vaccines and hybridoma cell-produced monoclonal antibodies (Chapter 13). Earlier interferon preparations were also produced in culture by a particular lymphoblastoid cell line (the Namalwa cell line), which was found to synthesize high levels of several IFN-a's naturally (Chapter 8).
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