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23 Questions with Andrew Wilson

By Forge Biologics
Mar 5, 2024 9:37:16 AM

23 Questions with Andrew Wilson

23 Questions with Forge is our fast-paced series where our team members are challenged to answer 23 rapid-fire questions about trending topics in gene therapy development.

Forge's plasmid development team is at the heart of our AAV manufacturing process. Hear from Andrew Wilson, Scientist I in Plasmid Development/Process Development, on how Forge's plasmid DNA production and approach offers idea-to-impact services for our clients. Watch the full video below!



Read the interview:

Hi! Can we interrupt you for a quick interview? It’s just 23 questions…
Andrew: Sure! If it’s only 23...

Can you introduce yourself and what you do at Forge?
Andrew: My name is Andrew Wilson, and I’m a process development scientist on the plasmids team here at Forge.

Why does Forge have a plasmids department?
Andrew: Good question. Forge aims to be a one-stop-shop for our clients, offering a seamless experience in AAV manufacturing.

Ok, fun ice breaker: What's the best topping for ice cream?
Andrew: Definitely hot coffee.

Love a cappuccino with my ice-cream. What are the different grades of plasmids that Forge offers?
Andrew: Forge offers research-grade, GMP-pathway (which is suitable for our phase I/II materials) and full cGMP-grade plasmids.

Why is Forge investing in plasmid manufacturing?
Andrew: We’re hoping to be a one-stop shop for our clients. This starts with the production of a large amount of high-quality DNA material, which we produce right here on site.

What do you think is a significant bottleneck in gene therapy manufacturing?
Andrew: Definitely the production of nucleic acid material because globally, the production of nucleic acid forms a bottleneck in the manufacturing of gene therapies.

On a less serious note, if you could have an animal sidekick, what would it be?
Andrew: A cat! I carry a picture of my cat in my wallet. Her name is Keana. You know what? I need to run down to the lab, want to come?

Can you give me an overview of plasmid production?
Andrew: Sure. It starts with the transformation of our production strains with our client’s plasmid. Then we purify the plasmid with a two-stage chromatography system. Finally, we formulate it, and ensure that it meets all critical quality attributes.

How does plasmid impact upstream and downstream development?
Andrew: Plasmid affects every step of AAV manufacturing. If you don’t produce high quality plasmids, there won’t be any viruses, which means no therapeutic.

What is a factor to consider when optimizing the fermentation process?
Andrew: There are a lot of factors to consider. One of my favorites is metabolic burden, where the burden that you are putting on the strains might affect the quality and quantity of plasmid produced.

Ok, If you had to sing karaoke right now, which song would you pick?
Andrew: Shake It Off by Taylor Swift! This fermenter machine actually doubles as a karaoke machine.

Andrew: No.

Got me! Does molecular weight matter?
Andrew: Yes! The size of a plasmid affects how it can be purified and produced.

What are some critical factors in plasmid manufacturing?
Andrew: There are a lot of factors, including ease of production, specific yield, and AAV production volume.

How can plasmid be easily produced during fermentation?
Andrew: Well, that’s one of the proprietary edges that we have at Forge. We’ve developed our processes to meet our clients’ specific requirements and produce high quality plasmid DNA.

Which do you prefer, oceans or mountains?
Andrew: Cities! I see my manager there and I need to ask him something. Meet me by the mural?

Why is plasmid capture important in downstream production?
Andrew: Plasmid capture is important because the more plasmid you can pull out of your cell lysates, the greater your plasmid yield, which in turn can supply an increased scale of AAV production.

I we were at trivia night, what category do you dominate?
Andrew: Music!

What’s the highest grossing tour ever?
Andrew: That’s easy! It’s got to be the Eras Tour.

Back to plasmids. Why is recovery important during the polishing step?
Andrew: Recovery is important because you tend to lose a lot of plasmid during the polishing step. The more plasmid you can have, it can supply larger scales of AAV production.

Do you think gene therapy developers benefit from having a CDMO that also produces plasmid?
Andrew: 100%. Having both AAV and plasmid manufacturing under one roof means that our clients don’t need to juggle multiple vendors.

What is the best thing about working at Forge?
Andrew: The people! We spend a lot of hours working hard in the lab. It feels great when you’re working towards a meaningful purpose with people who are also into it.