Life Science Leader (LSL): What are ancillary materials and why are they important in the manufacture of biologicals?
Bill Tente of Humacyte: Ancillary materials are components used in the manufacture of biologicals. They frequently impart some important biological function in the synthesis of the biological; for instance, to induce the production of a cytokine from a cultured cell. Since they are not present in the final dosage form, they are not excipients.
LSL: What are some of the main facets of qualifying ancillary materials?
Tente: Assurance of quality is critical with ancillary materials because they have a direct influence on the safety and potency of biological products. In addition, many ancillary materials are biological in nature and are subject to variability. Understanding the extent of variation and the tolerance the manufacturing process has for this level of variation in the ancillary material is important.
LSL: Are innovators required to do the same level of qualification that a large bio-manufacturing company undertakes?
Tente: In practicality, innovators must rank order the level of qualification for each ancillary material used in the manufacturing process in order to move forward with pre-clinical and clinical studies. Innovators should start with developing good characterization assays for a biological product in order to determine the impact of lot-to-lot variation of an ancillary material. Then the robustness of manufacturing can be ascertained. Having assays that assess biological function of the final product facilitates this activity.
LSL: What role is USP playing in this field?
Tente: USP has published informational chapter <1043>. It addresses best practices for qualifying ancillary materials. In addition, there will be a full session devoted to ancillary materials at the upcoming USP Scientific Meeting in Seattle in October.
LSL: As the VP of manufacturing and regulatory affairs, what are your primary resources for staying up to date in your field?
Tente: In addition to staying abreast of the current literature, I am fortunate to have a great informal network that is wonderful for sharing the latest information. Being a USP volunteer is also a big help for staying current.
LSL: Given your responsibility for FDA submissions, what advice would you give to others on getting a successful outcome from a submission?
Tente: Understand your manufacturing process, pick the best vendors for ancillary materials, develop characterization tests that assess biological function of the product and solicit help from those experienced with the development of biological products.
I hope this has provided you with some insight into ancillary materials and the possible benefit of attending this conference. If you plan to go, be sure to seek out Life Science Leader magazine contributing editor, Wayne Koberstein. If you would like to get something scheduled with him in advance, drop him an email via LinkedIn or directly at
One-On-One With Bill Tente of Humacyte
LSL: What was your approach to successfully transitioning from a career as a researcher to an executive for a life sciences company? The years spent in the laboratory or on the bioprocess production floor make you a better manager. By being a good scientist, you can better handle the uncertainty associated with the development of novel, complex biological products.
LSL: What book have you read that made the greatest impact on your life and why? I am a big John Steinbeck fan. His books deal with man’s pursuit of greatness, often in the backdrop of weakness and despair. He recognized that people did not always treat others fairly. I’ve observed that people are capable of developing great products, but often organizations make it difficult to translate these developments due to personnel issues. Steinbeck observed the same thing in everyday life.
LSL: What is an important management technique that took you a long time to master? Making sure the team clearly understands your vision. I’ve always had a clear view of where I thought something would end up, but no one can read your mind, therefore you have to effectively communicate what you envision.
LSL: How would you describe your leadership style? People tell me I am a lot like “Lou Grant” of the old Mary Tyler Moore TV show, but without the gruffness. (I am not sure if that is a good thing!) I listen well. I have common sense. People feel comfortable approaching me. I am comfortable mentoring employees, and I like seeing them succeed. I like the atmosphere of a small start-up involved in translational research. I like to see the “whole” come to fruition after years of trial and error and recognize the contributions made by those along the way. In the process I try to keep things fun, however.