Monitoring process-related impurities in biologics-host cell protein analysis

Katrine Pilely, Martin Rask Johansen, Rikke Raaen Lund, Thomas Kofoed, Thomas Kjærsgaard Jørgensen, Lars Skriver, Ejvind Mørtz

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


During biologics development, manufacturers must demonstrate clearance of host cell impurities and contaminants to ensure drug purity, manufacturing process consistency, and patient safety. Host cell proteins (HCPs) are a major class of process-related impurities and require monitoring and documentation of their presence through development and manufacturing. Even in residual amounts, they are known to affect product quality and efficacy as well as patient safety. HCP analysis using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (HCP-ELISA) is the standard technique, due to its simple handling, short analysis time, and high sensitivity for protein impurities. Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is an orthogonal method for HCP analysis and is increasingly included in regulatory documentation. LC-MS offers advantages where HCP-ELISA has drawbacks, e.g., the ability to identify and quantify individual HCPs. This article summarizes the available knowledge about monitoring HCPs in biologics and presents the newest trends in HCP analysis with current state-of-the-art HCP measurement tools. Through case studies, we present examples of HCP control strategies that have been used in regulatory license applications, using an MS-based coverage analysis and HCP-ELISA and LC-MS for HCP quantification. This provides novel insight into the rapid evolving strategy of HCP analysis. Improvements in technologies to evaluate HCP-ELISA suitability and the implementation of orthogonal LC-MS methods for HCP analysis are important to rationally manipulate, engineer, and select suitable cell lines and downstream processing steps to limit problematic HCPs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)747-758
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ELISA coverage analysis
  • Host cell protein analysis
  • Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry
  • Process-related impurities


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