Despite the struggling economy, “the bioreactor/cell culture market remains relatively strong,” claims Mike Sattan, vp of marketing at New Brunswick Scientific (NBS), an Eppendorf company.
The substantial uptick in interest in mammalian cell culture technology is largely being attributed to renewed interest in vaccine development and production, dating back to the events of 9/11. Additional market drivers include the emergence of infectious agents such as West Nile virus and other pathogens affecting humans, pets, and livestock, and most recently growing concerns surrounding pandemic influenza. The vaccine industry is rapidly trying to move away from traditional egg-based production to more rapid, flexible, and cost-effective cell-based techniques.
Sattan notes a rigorous trend toward single-use systems, and NBS will enter that increasingly competitive market in the fourth quarter of this year with a small-scale, 1–10 L working volume bioreactor designed for mammalian cell culture. It will feature a rigid plastic stirred tank vessel intended to mimic a traditional stirred tank reactor (STR).
The product launch will include 5 L and 14 L single-use vessels with a preinstalled fluorescent disposable pH sensor and traditional dissolved oxygen probe that utilize a membrane technology for online sensing without the need for aseptic connections. The full feedback control system can sparge in four gases or activate pumps for acid/base addition to control pH.
There is also a demand for the company’s packed-bed FibraCel disks, according to Sattan, particularly among generic drug manufacturers looking for higher yields than can be achieved with traditional roller bottle technology. The disks can be used in the company’s CelliGen® 310, CelliGen 510, and BioFlo® Pro bioreactors and the FibraStage disposable cell culture system.
NBS recently redesigned its small-scale, glass autoclavable bioreactor and introduced the BioFlo/CelliGen 115 benchtop system, which features a 1.3–10 L working volume, a touchscreen controller, enhanced control functions, and interchangeable vessels. During the third quarter, NBS will launch the BioFlo 610, a mobile, compact, pilot-scale fermentation system with a total volume of 65–125 L.
At “ACHEMA,” Sartorius Stedim Biotech announced an expansion of its single-use bioreactor portfolio, which currently features the BIOSTAT® CultiBag STR 200 stirred tank disposable system and the BIOSTAT CultiBag RM product line, which is based on a rocking motion for mixing. The company’s two new systems will include a rotationally oscillating bioreactor and an orbital shake bioreactor.
The oscillating bioreactor is being developed in collaboration with Bayer Technology Services and will initially be designed for mammalian cell culture. ExcellGene is the partner for development of the orbital shake bioreactor, which will range in volume from 200–1,000 L and provides a more gentle mixing method appropriate for cells sensitive to the shear forces that can be generated by stirred tank technologies.
Sartorius Stedim is also expanding the CultiBag STR family with the addition of 50 L and a 1,000 L bag volumes by the end of 2009, according to Maik Jornitz, group vp marketing. The STR stirrer is based on the centered agitator design found in tradiational reusable systems. In addition, the company introduced its membrane technology into CultiBag RM systems for fermentation in perfusion mode.
Additional automation, more elegant sensing and control strategies, and a renaissance of perfusion approaches that rely on single-use technologies are the main trends reported by Daniella Kranjac, vp of sales and marketing at GE Life Sciences. Accordingly, GE is incorporating its ReadyMate genderless, aseptic connectors into the disposable Cellbags™ used in the company’s rocking motion Wave Bioreactor™ systems. The sterile connectors are also being used upstream in media preparation.