Sartorius combination tech deal a ‘win-win,’ says Repligen

Bioprocessing vendors Sartorius Stedim Biotech and Repligen Corporation have combined their bioreactor technologies to offer control integrated bioreactors for perfusion.

Announced at the BioProcess International Conference in Boston this week, Sartorius and Repligen have inked a deal to integrate their respective technologies into a combined offering for biomanufacturers.

Under terms of the deal, Repligen’s XCell ATF cell retention control technology will be combined into Sartorius’ BIOSTAT STR large-scale single-use bioreactors offering customers bioreactors used in perfusion cell culture applications between 50 L to 2,000 L in scale.

“The integrated product advances a novel concept: Perfusion enabled bioreactors,” Repligen spokesperson Sondra Newman told BioProcess Insider. “This will allow end users to conduct perfusion using a single control interface to simplify perfusion processes for biopharmaceutical manufacturers.”

The system itself integrates a perfusion enabled bioreactor with two previously independent control systems. Having just one user interface and more seamless communications with the master control system should significantly reduce end-user time and effort, Newman said.

“Customers benefit from the combined efforts of two bioprocessing leaders; Repligen’s XCell ATF device has become the gold standard for perfusion cell culture and Sartorius Stedim Biotech is a highly regarded leader in bioreactor manufacturing from lab- to process scale.”

Newman’s views were mirrored by Mario Becker, head of product management, Cell Culture Tech at Sartorius Stedim Biotech. Talking to the Insider ain Boston, he said the goal of the collaboration is to help implement and intensify bioprocesses.

“Our bioreactors are perfectly designed for high cell density applications while Repligen’s hollow fiber and ATF technologies are the most efficient cell retention tech on the market.”

Win win

The relationship between Sartorius and Repligen “is a straightforward agreement based on [their] respective technology,” Newman said.

Sartorius will ultimately sell and support the resulting perfusion-enabled bioreactors to the end market, while Repligen will continue to sell (and support) its XCell ATF devices and related consumables to the end market.

However, when asked about the nature of the relationship between two rival vendors, Newman said: “We are not competive with Sartorius Stedim Biotech in this area. We have invested in our XCell ATF device and associated control systems, and SSB has invested in bioreactors and associated control systems.

“Combining our expertise is a win-win; Repligen is not a bioreactor manufacturer and Sartorius is not in the hollow fiber ATF device market.”

Hopes and acquisitions

Like many of the major bioprocessing vendors, Sartorius has increased its technologies and presence through M&A, such as the acquisition of cell analysis firms Essen BioScience and IntelliCyt, virus analytics firm ViroCyt, and single-use firm TAP Biosystems back in 2013.

Becker said while some collaborations have resulted in acquisitions, Sartorius has “a strong record of tech collaboration with 20 to 25 partnerships in its portfolio,”

However, he could not comment when asked whether the firm had one eye on a potential acquisition of Repligen.

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