Laboratory Equipment

Robots in the Laboratory

Whether cell-based or molecular biology focused, most assays performed in biopharmaceutical laboratories involve liquid solutions. Increasingly, automated liquid handlers (laboratory robotics) are demonstrating utility in these labs, especially for high-throughput screening and optimization of cell culture media, chromatography conditions, formulations, and so on. Some experts say that screening 100,000 samples/day will soon become routine. But the robots haven’t condemned all manual pipettes to the trash heap — far from it. With multichannel and electronic pipettes improving throughput and reproducibility of…

Cellular Communications

Like spectroscopy, as discussed in BPI Lab last month (1), cell signaling is not a laboratory technique but rather an area of scientific study. The environment of living cells — whether prokaryotic or eukaryotic, in vitro or in vivo — comprises not only water, nutrients, waste products, and metabolites, but also molecules released by other cells in response to intracellular events such as microbial infection and disease state or environmental factors such as temperature, osmolality, and pH. Receptor proteins on…

Container–Closure Integrity

An increasing number of biopharmaceuticals — including vaccines, stem cells, and proteins — require cold storage to maintain efficacy before use. However, the ability to maintain container–closure integrity (CCI) during cold storage is not completely understood. Concerns about CCI failure have been raised for storage and shipment of such products in rubber-stoppered vials under cold conditions (e.g., −80 °C or on dry ice). Commonly used butyl stoppers are believed to lose their elastic properties below their glass transition temperature (Tg),…

Enlightening Results

Separating spectroscopy from spectrometry is not as straightforward as it might seem. Spectroscopy is the science of the interactions between matter and radiated energy, and spectrometry is the technology that applies that science (1). The former generates no results on its own. It is concerned with spectra produced when matter interacts with or emits electromagnetic radiation, including all methods of producing and analyzing light spectra using spectroscopes, spectrographs, spectrometers, and spectrophotometers. The distinction should come from the meanings of the…

NIR Spectroscopy for Process Monitoring and Control in Mammalian Cell Cultivation

The quality by design (QbD) and process analytical technology (PAT) approaches have shown significant benefit in the classical pharmaceutical industry and are now strongly influencing bioprocessing. Monitoring critical process parameters (CPPs) during biotechnological cell cultivations is essential to maintaining high efficiencies and quality. Commercial sensor systems for real-time inline monitoring are available for some parameters, such as pH or the concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO). For others such as glucose concentration, total cell count (TCC), and viability no robust online…

Automation of Microbioreactors

Current methodologies in genetics and microbiology enable researchers to influence metabolic pathways of microbial cells in many directions. Beside the academic interest in investigating fundamental functions in metabolic pathways, commercial production of valuable compounds by microbial hosts is state of the art. For example, such products include enzymes (lipases, proteases, phytases), therapeutic agents (insulin, antibodies), bulk chemicals (lysine, glutamate, citric acid), or the microbial cells themselves (used in brewing or milk processing), with therapeutic agents probably the fastest growing market.…

Cookie Cutter Proteolysis: Achieving Reproducible, Efficient Digestions for Proteomic Workflows

Cookie Cutter Proteolysis: Achieving Reproducible, Efficient Digestions for Proteomic Workflows   Protein sample preparation workflows for mass spectrometric analysis that involve proteolysis are often labor-intensive, time consuming and user dependent. These workflows often involve digestion, solid phase extraction, drying, and re-suspension prior to reversed phase separation into the mass spectrometer. The introduction of variability at many of these steps hinders discovery initiatives as well as the ability to convert these discoveries into viable assays.   Recently, an automated protein digestion…

Keeping New Technologies Coming

The biomanufacturing industry is heavily invested in improvements in productivity and efficiency, and innovation is a critical component to ensuring gains in these areas. Yet that is not always the case. Suppliers and innovators in this market face greater challenges, and much longer product evaluation cycles than in other segments, for example the information technology or semiconductor industries. In the highly regulated biomanufacturing environment, changing any aspect of a process can potentially necessitate additional regulatory submissions to the US Food…

“Transformation By Infection”

Every bioprocess begins with an expression system, and every expression system begins with DNA transfection. Derived from transformation and infection, the word paradoxically has come to be applied mainly to nonviral methods of genetically engineering cells; viral-vector–mediated DNA transfer is often called transduction. There are chemical, particulate, physical/mechanical, and viral means of getting new genetic material into a cell, and that DNA may take a number of different forms. Even the cloning method (pictured right) using a microscopic needle to…

Amplifying the Possibilities

Polymerases are natural enzymes that are vital to nucleic acid synthesis: DNA polymerase for replication of deoxyribonucleic acid and RNA polymerase for replication of ribonucleic acid. Thus all living things make and use polymerases of their own. But in 1969, the University of Wisconsin’s Thomas D. Brock and Hudson Freeze identified a new species of extremophilic bacterium thriving at 160 °F (70 °C) in a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. In time, heat-tolerant polymerase isolated from Thermus aquaticus (Taq)…