Navigating the production of non-GMP proteins in a GMP-driven environment

As the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries are obliged to align their operations with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines, a unique set of challenges emerges for facilities tasked with producing non-GMP proteins. GMP is widely recognized as the gold standard for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. However, in some cases, the production of non-GMP proteins (or “technical proteins), often required for research, industrial applications, or other non-clinical purposes, becomes a necessity.  At NorthX we serve both the non-gmp and GMP protein communities and place a strong emphasis on utilizing a strong Quality Management System, while at the same time respecting the process for each product.

Producing these proteins efficiently within a predominantly GMP-driven environment poses several challenges:


Both GMP and non-GMP processes have their distinct sets of protocols and standards. Applying spatial, procedural or time-based segregation between GMP and non GMP products is essential. In cases where GMP manufacturing is the prevailing standard this will also stipulate how and what is needed to be done so ensure this segregation. Normally is not allowed to produce more than one pharmaceutical product at a time in a multipurpose facility and thorough product change over routines need to be in place to ensure the risk for carry overs and mix ups are minimized also contributing to the integrity and high quality of the non GMP protein manufactured.

Documentation dilemmas

GMP operations thrive on meticulous documentation. Every step, change, or deviation is carefully recorded. While non-GMP production doesn’t demand the same level of rigorous record-keeping, facilities must strike a balance. Too little documentation for non-GMP processes can lead to inefficiencies or inconsistencies, while over-documenting can unnecessarily tie up resources.

Training and personnel challenges

Staff trained predominantly in GMP protocols might find it challenging to switch gears for non-GMP production. The mindset and attentiveness required for GMP can be deeply ingrained, making it difficult to adapt to the more flexible requirements of non-GMP production.

Resource allocation

In a facility primarily designed for GMP production, resources – be it equipment, personnel, or space – are typically allocated with GMP requirements in mind. Efficiently producing non-GMP proteins requires a rethinking of these allocations without compromising GMP production.

Cross-contamination concerns

Even with segregation in place, the risk of cross-contamination always looms. It is therefore important that the superior quality system stipulates what operations is needed to be in place and what measures to take between batches. Ensuring that non-GMP proteins don’t compromise the quality of GMP products is paramount.

Regulatory scrutiny

Regulatory bodies, aware of the potential risks, might subject such dual-purpose facilities to heightened scrutiny. This can lead to more frequent inspections and audits, creating additional pressure on the facility to demonstrate clear demarcation and control over its two types of production.

Efficiently navigating the dual landscape

  • While the challenges are significant, they’re not insurmountable. With strategic planning and a clear understanding of both GMP and non-GMP requirements, facilities can effectively navigate this dual Tailored Training Programs: Implement training modules specifically designed to address the nuances of working in a dual production environment.
  • Robust Quality Management Systems (QMS): Implement a QMS that can adapt to both the rigorous demands of GMP and the flexibility of non-GMP.
  • Regular Internal Audits: Periodically review and assess the efficacy of the separation strategies in place.

The expanding horizons of non-GMP technical proteins: A deep dive

In the biopharmaceutical arena, the importance of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) often takes center stage. However, beyond this GMP-centric world lies an equally essential category of proteins known as “industrial” or “technical proteins”. While they might not be used directly in therapeutic applications, they serve a myriad of functions that propel innovation and understanding in biotechnology. Let’s explore the expanding applications of these technical proteins.

1. Enzymes

Enzymes are the meticulous craftsmen of the biological world. They speed up chemical reactions, sculpt molecules, and construct or deconstruct various compounds. Their role in biotechnology is diverse:

  • Biocatalysis: Enzymes, with their ability to catalyze reactions under mild conditions, offer eco-friendly alternatives in chemical synthesis. They’re used in producing biofuels, fine chemicals, and even pharmaceutical intermediates.
  • Biomolecular Engineering: Restriction enzymes, ligases, and polymerases are the workhorses of genetic engineering, enabling DNA manipulation and amplification.
  • Industrial Applications: From the enzymes in your laundry detergent that break down stains, to those in the food industry aiding cheese production, these proteins have a multitude of commercial applications.

2. Ligands

Ligands are molecules that can bind to other specific molecules. In biotechnology, protein ligands have invaluable roles:

  • Affinity Chromatography: Protein ligands are used to purify other proteins or molecules. They bind to the target molecule, enabling its separation from a mixture.
  • Diagnostics: Ligands play a central role in many diagnostic tests. For instance, they can capture specific biomolecules, indicating the presence or absence of a disease marker.
  • Biosensors: Ligands are vital for the development of sensors that can detect specific molecules, from toxins in the environment to glucose in blood.

3. Analytical proteins

These proteins are indispensable for research, diagnostics, and quality control:

  • Reporter Proteins: Proteins like Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) are used to track gene expression, protein localization, and even monitor cellular events in real-time.
  • Quality Control: Proteins employed in assays ensure that therapeutic products are consistent, potent, and free from contaminants.
  • Drug Development: Proteins used in assays can screen potential drug candidates, assess their efficacy, or gauge potential side effects.

4. Structural and functional probes

To understand the complex dance of life at the molecular level, proteins are used as probes:

  • Protein Crystallization: Some proteins can induce crystallization of other proteins or large complexes, aiding in their structural determination.
  • Functional Assays: Proteins can be used to test the function of other molecules, be they drugs, other proteins, or even whole cellular pathways.

Championing the value of technical proteins

While the biopharma industry and regulatory bodies necessarily emphasize GMP due to its direct implication on human health, the role of technical proteins cannot be understated. They serve as the unsung heroes, facilitating innovation, preliminary testing, and foundational research.

As the industry continues to evolve, so will the applications of these non-GMP proteins. By understanding and championing their value, we can ensure that both the R&D and GMP spheres of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals continue to thrive and innovate hand in hand. The future is bright, and technical proteins will undoubtedly play a significant role in illuminating the path forward.

Have a technical protein in mind?  We would love to discuss with you how to move your project forward.  Please email us at to learn more!

About NorthX Biologics AB

NorthX Biologics is a CDMO and Innovation Hub in Advanced Biologics, with +30 years of GMP production experience. The team provides process development and GMP manufacturing services with expertise in plasmid DNA, mRNA, proteins, cells and other advanced biologics. Headquartered in the heart of Sweden, the team serves customers worldwide and in 2021 was recognized as a national innovation hub for advanced therapeutics and vaccines. NorthX has the ambition to become a leading cell and gene therapy manufacturer and partner of choice for innovative drug development companies.

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