A number of IgM monoclonal antibodies are currently in development for treatment of autoimmune disease, infectious disease, and cancer. Growing interest in these molecules has created a need for an accurate, rapid, simple analytical method to measure IgM levels in cell culture supernatants, and to document the distribution of IgM and protein contaminants in chromatography fractions. High performance protein A columns are used for this application with IgG monoclonals, but IgMs are easily denatured by the harsh conditions required for elution of most affinity ligands. However, IgM monoclonals often exhibit strong retention on either cation exchangers, or anion exchangers, or both, making ion exchange chromatography a potential candidate for this application.
The large size of IgMs makes them a major challenge to particle-based chromatography media. Pentameric IgM has a mass of about 0.96 Md, and hexameric IgM about 1.15 Md. Their diffusion constants are about 2.5 x10-7 cm2/sec, about twice as slow as IgG. Since particle-based chromatography media mostly rely on diffusion for mass transport, both resolution and capacity are im- Figure 4 illustrates a modified anion exchange gradient configuration for monitoring the amount of IgM expressed in cell culture supernatants. A wash step was introduced to better remove con- paired, and increasingly so at higher flow rates.
Monolithic ion exchangers are characterized by an interconnected system of channels with diameters ranging 0.5 to 2.0 microns. This pore architecture supports convective flow, which conserves high resolution at high flow rates. The lack of a void volume removes the major source of dispersion in chromatographic systems. This contributes to sharper peaks, which improves both resolution and sensitivity. Capacity is also conserved at high flow rates. This permits use of a microcolumn format that minimizes assay time and buffer consumption. This combination of features should make monoliths effective analytical tools for IgM.