What is Residual DNA Testing and How to Determine Residual DNA

Most biological agents enter the body directly without passing through the gastrointestinal tract, so in addition to biological activity, relevant authorities have very strict requirements on impurities in drugs. Among them, the host cells residual DNA has always been the focus of regulatory agencies because of its special potential safety risks.

Although recombinant protein drugs, antibody drugs, vaccines and other products in biological products have undergone strict purification processes, there may still be residual host cell DNA in the products. Such residual DNA may have infectious or tumorigenic risks, for example, the residual DNA may carry the HIV virus or the Ras oncogene. Host Cell DNA Testing is a tool to accurately quantify the amount of host cell DNA residues in biologics using qpcr and other methods.

The Purpose of Host Cell Residual DNA Detection

Confirm that the purification process is reasonable and can effectively remove the host cell residual DNA.

Confirm that the impurity content in the product meets the standard requirements.

Residual Host Cell DNA Testing Method

Considering the potential safety risks of host cell residual DNA, it is important to establish sensitive, accurate, specific and durable methods for the quantitative determination of residual DNA. Establishing appropriate host cell residual DNA assays can help monitor the production process and ensure the safety and quality of biological products. The main assays for residual DNA are as follows:

DNA probe hybridization

Some studies have shown that the detection results of hybridization method are quite different from the real host cells residual DNA content, and the method is unstable and the detection time is relatively long.

Fluorescent staining

This method is also a total DNA detection method, but the fluorescent signal is susceptible to interference and has poor specificity, so environmental DNA contamination must be avoided, and all materials and reagents must be DNA-free.

Threshold method

This method quantitatively detects ssDNA to calculate the total amount of DNA in a sample, is limited to detecting DNA fragments less than 800 bp, and may be inhibited by high concentrations of DNA (1 ng/ml), and is also susceptible to short DNA fragments (20–80 bp) ) and lack stability.

Quantitative PCR for Residual Host Cell DNA Testing

At present, and real-time quantitative PCR is currently the best, which is specific, sensitive, rapid and can achieve high throughput detection. Establishing appropriate methods for detecting residual DNA of host cells can help monitor the production process and ensure the safety and quality of biological products.

Residual Host Cell DNA Testing workflow

By designing specific primers and fluorescently labeled probes for exogenous DNA or adding sensitive fluorescent dyes to the reaction system, changes in the amount of specific amplification products can be reflected in real time by continuously monitoring changes in the fluorescence values in the reaction system. When the fluorescence intensity released during the reaction reaches a preset threshold, the number of PCR cycles of the system has a linear relationship with the logarithm of the amount of initial DNA template. Using DNA standard substance of known concentration and according to the above relationship, constructing a standard curve and quantitatively analyzing the specific template, the residual amount of exogenous DNA in the test sample can be determined.

Residual Host Cell DNA Testing workflow

Creative Proteomics provides a sensitive and accurate analysis to quantitate a broad range of rDNAs in various types of samples, including monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, viral products, etc.

We Can Provide but Not Limited to:

  • Sample preparation and DNA Extraction
  • Ultra-sensitive detection of rDNAs from various species
  • Quantification of total rDNAs
  • Quantitation of specific rDNA
  • DNA Sequencing of unknown rDNAs


  • Li, S. M., Bai, F. L., Xu, W. J., Yang, Y. B., An, Y., Li, T. H., ... & Wang, W. F. (2014). Removing residual DNA from Vero-cell culture-derived human rabies vaccine by using nuclease. Biologicals, 42(5), 271-276.
  • World Health Organization. (1987). Acceptability of cell substrates for production of biologicals: report of a WHO study group [meeting held in Geneva from 18 to 19 November 1986].
  • Grachev, V., Magrath, D., Griffiths, E., & Petricciani, J. C. (1998). WHO requirements for the use of animal cells as in vitro substrates for the production of biologicals (requirements for biological substances No. 50). Biologicals, 26(3), 175-193.
  • Food and Drug Administration. (1993). Points to consider in the characterization of cell lines used to produce biological products [2022-04-04].
  • Food and Drug Administration. (1997) Points to consider in the manufacture and testing of monoclonal antibody products for human use [2022-04-04].
  • European Pharmacopoeia Commission. European pharmacopoeia 9. 8[M]. Strasbourg: European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare, 2019.

Related Service

Residual DNA Testing

Related Resource

What is Host Cell Residual DNA and Why to detect residual DNA

*For Research Use Only. Not for use in the treatment or diagnosis of disease.

Online Inquiry

Great Minds Choose Creative Proteomics