Upstream Processing

A Decade of Microbial Fermentation

Microorganisms play a vital role in modern life — with applications ranging from wine fermentation to biofuel production to solutions for complex mathematical problems (1). During the past decade, microbial fermentation for protein production reached a higher level of sophistication and wider adoption. When BPI was first published in 2003, the physical and biological characteristics of many microbial cells and the attributes of their fermentation processes were well known. Nonetheless, the economic environment at that time created immense pressure on…

A Decade of Animal Cell Culture

Eukaryotic cells are fragile and finicky, requiring very specific culture conditions and nutrients to survive, grow, and be productive in an ex vivo environment. Even so, they have become vital to the biopharmaceutical industry’s ability to make complex biological products — overtaking yeast as a production system around 1990 and surpassing bacteria in the number of associated product approvals five years later (1). Since then, they have become even more useful, expanding their reach into the vaccine world. Mammalian cell…

Rapid Development of Chemically Defined Media and Feeds through Replacement of Basal Hydrolysates

Protein hydrolysates are widely used in mammalian cell culture to improve cell growth and recombinant protein production. However, use of the hydrolysates can lead to significant process variability, due to the limited control of their source and final composition during manufacturing. On the other hand, development of chemically defined media and feeds requires a tremendous amount of work, including comprehensive library screening and spent media analysis.

In this educational webcast, Dr. Hao Chen, Associate Principal Scientist, BioProcess Development at Merck, describes a rapid method for developing chemically defined media and feeds for Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines from existing proprietary media and feeds by the replacement of basal protein hydrolysates with novel supplements. In the case studies presented, Dr. Chen shows that after two rounds of optimization, the protein hydrolysate was successfully replaced. The resulting cell growth, protein productivity, and product quality were similar in the chemically defined and original media. The entire development process was completed within six weeks.

The Maturation of Single-Use Applications

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” —Albert Einstein     Single-use systems (SUSs) have been treated as novel technologies for some time. I have spent much of the past 10 years introducing clients to SUSs and integrating them into conventional processes. They are part of the biopharmaceutical development and production landscape and a mature, integrated option for bioprocessing. The value of SUS integration is soundly substantiated: reduced cross-contamination risk…

Designing the Ideal Bioreactor with Single-Use Technology

    Bioprocessing companies are hoping for a brighter future in biologics manufacturing that will include ever-higher titers of vaccines and therapeutic proteins grown in cell culture. It would also facilitate bioprocess operations without the recurring challenges that stem from process scale-up and human error. Moreover, that future would also comply with increasingly stringent regulatory and current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) requirements while providing better cost controls than we see today. How far away is this future? Perhaps not too…

Large-Scale, Insect-Cell–Based Vaccine Development

    Vaccines are among biotechnological products characterized by continuous growth over the past decade. According to a 2011 report, the global vaccine market is expected to reach US$34 billion in sales by 2013 (1). Much development can be ascribed to vaccine treatments for cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases (which have risen significantly) as well as the growing worldwide population and emergence of new pandemics. Although to date the main health impact of vaccines is still in disease prevention, the…

Scaling Up Stem Cells

    Cell-based products are becoming increasingly important as potential biotherapies. Cell therapy is predicted to have a huge impact on the healthcare sector over the coming decades. Stem cells, in particular, are investigated as potential treatments for a diverse range of applications (such as heart disease and metabolic and inflammatory disorders) in which they might be used to restore lost biological functions. The cell therapy industry is starting to mature. Several emerging companies are now supporting late-stage clinical trials,…

Method for Preserving Cell Density and Viability in Two-Phase Fed-Batch CHO Culture

Risk of cell-culture contamination is a common concern whenever materials are added to or removed from a bioreactor. It is essential to maintain a sterile barrier and provide containment against intruding organisms during such operations. Many R&D and pilot-scale manufacturing tasks involve flexible, single-use processes with presterilized containment systems in nonclassified laboratory areas. Here, we examine a process that requires substantial manipulation of a culture — first completely removing and later returning the culture to a bioreactor during media exchange…

Balancing the Statistical Tightrope

During one development meeting early in my industrial career, a process development group member asked me whether the value my group had reported in one result was okay to use. I confidently replied “Yes, it’s fine. It’s about 40, somewhere between 38 and 42. The other person raised his eyebrows. “About 40?” In response, I somewhat awkwardly mumbled “Yes, probably…about that” — an answer not met with full understanding, but rather concern. My answer hadn’t been incorrect. The result was…

Strategies for Rapid Production of Therapeutic Proteins in Mammalian Cells

It is estimated that hundreds of new recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) enter preclinical and clinical development each year (1, 2). Concomitant global competition in biologics manufacturing has put immense pressure to shorten the time to market. Over the years, cells from various origins have been used for therapeutic protein production (2, 3,–5). One of the most economical choices is Escherichia coli, used to make proteins such as human insulin and growth hormone. But the bacteria have some serious…