Thermo Fisher scaling single-use bioreactors up to 5,000 L

There is increasing demand for large-scale single-use bioreactors says Thermo Fisher as it prepares to launch disposable systems up to 5,000 L in volume.

Thermo Fisher Scientific showcased its latest bioprocess offerings at Biotech Week Boston earlier this month. This included an update to its HyPerforma DynaDrive single-use bioreactor (SUB) range, which will see the firm offer biomanufacturers disposable bioreactors with volumes more than doubling its current volume limit.

Single-use technologies have been fully adopted by the industry, but most manufacturers rely on systems with an upper limit of 2,000 L due to pressure challenges from the increased weight of liquid, infrastructure issues and costs. For large commercial production volumes, therefore, manufacturers opting to use single-use instead of stainless-steel can overcome the scale limitations by using a perfusion process or by running several bioreactors in unison.

Thermo Fisher going beyond 2,000 L SUB at Biotech Week Boston

But according to Kevin Mullen, senior product manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific, customers are now wanting larger sized single-use bioreactors, especially for cell cultures that do not work well in perfusion.

Therefore, the bioprocess vendor is launching a 3,000 L bioreactor in the first quarter 2020, Mullen told Bioprocess Insider. The bioreactor, made from Thermo Scientific Aegis 5-14 film, has been designed to fit in facilities made to house 2,000 L systems allowing biomanufacturers to install them without having to redesign their plants.

And in 2021, Thermo Fisher aims to go even bigger, launching a 5,000 L single-use bioreactor system.

Beyond 2,000 L

Only one other bioprocessing vendor has a range of single-use systems above 2,000 L. Massachusetts-based firm ABEC launched a 4,300 L bioreactor (with 3,500 L of working volume) in 2015 and a 4,900 L system with a 4,000 L working volume in 2017.

And also at Biotech Week Boston, ABEC went even higher, announcing a single-use bioreactor system with a working volume of 6,000 L telling this publication it was a response from customers wanting greater economies of scale for cell culture production using disposable equipment.

Whether other vendors will follow suit and move into the super-sized single-use system space remains to be seen, but according to Mullen Thermo Fisher has a competitive advantage over ABEC due to its full scale-up offering.

The firm has SUB systems within the DynaDrive portfolio at the 50 L and 500 L scale, and systems within its single-use HyPerforma ranging from benchtop to 2,000 L, meaning customers can use Thermo Fisher systems as they scale-up their products through the clinic all the way to commercial.

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