Developments in bioprocessing coming out of the University of Oulu led to the founding of BioSilta, which has developed a bacterial cell-cultivation technology based on a fed-batch method used in industrial processes. In EnBase™ any well of an MTP plate becomes a miniature bioreactor with a storage layer of starch-containing gel on the bottom and a liquid media layer containing an enzyme.
The enzyme acts as a pump that controls glucose release from the starch to the culture. This controlled nutrient-feeding technique provides much better conditions for bacterial cell culture, the company says, allowing up to 50 times the cell density and up to 10 times higher levels of recombinant protein compared to standard cultivation methods.
“EnBase allows you to scale down your research knowing that you can readily scale it up again,” explained CEO, Russell Golson. The product is available for a variety of formats: shake flasks, mini-shake flasks, starter tubes, and a range of deep well and standard MTP plates. A 24-well Opti-Set allows customers to try different glucose feeding concentrations alongside different media in a single-plate experiment.
“Cell culture conditions can be optimized in a short space of time,” added Golson. Applications of EnBase include increasing expression levels of recombinant proteins (with the University of Regensburg), achieving higher growth for B. subtilis (with the University of Greifswald), and increasing throughput on the Human Proteome Resource with collaborators at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.
In another cell culture development, Peggy Stock, Ph.D., researcher in the molecular hepatology group at the University of Halle, described CellTech-BioReactor, a new system for biochemical monitoring. The project, funded by the state of Saxony-Anhalt, is being developed by the NEMO network, a consortium of small German companies and research facilities. The CellTech-BioReactor consists of a small disposable bioreactor allowing rapid assessment of the impact of compounds on hepatocytes in 3-D culture on various scaffolds.
A sandwich hybridization assay detects changes in liver enzyme (CYP) gene expression that could be related to compound toxicity. The system, at the prototype stage, is highly specific for CYP type, according to Dr. Stock, who hopes it can help replace animal systems.