Digital technologies and internet of things (IoT) bioprocessing systems can help biopharma accelerate process development and simplify scale up, according to Culture Biosciences, a digital biomanufacturing CDMO. Traditional bioprocess development relies on experimentation. Engineers test culture conditions, make changes, and retest until the desired result is achieved. The time taken to complete such work depends, to a large extent, on the bioreactor capacity that is available. But what if multiple experiments could be run in parallel and data could be accessed online in real time? The benefits could be significant, says Will Patrick, CEO Culture Biosciences.

“Digital biomanufacturing means using software to make developing and scaling bioprocesses much faster, efficient, and reproducible,” Patrick says, explaining such tech can be used to design processes and DOE experiments, and test processes in advance. A digital approach can also streamline tech transfer, according to Patrick, who says IoT-enabled devices allow protocols and metadata associated with bioprocesses to be shared between bioreactors or collated for analysis.

Patrick founded Culture Biosciences after working at Google X, the search giant’s research organization. The rationale was to help companies optimize and scale their bioprocesses more quickly and easily. The idea is to provide biopharmaceutical developers with bioreactor capacity. In addition, the CDMO’s software platform allows researchers to plan, manage, and execute experiments, Patrick says.

“Our first product offering is an automated lab of 100+ benchtop bioreactors that biopharma customers can use to quickly develop and optimize bioprocesses,” he points out. “Our team executes the experiments in our lab and the customer can see all the data in real time on our website.  We’ve built out our own bioreactor infrastructure to enable the real-time data access and to add new sensors, like cameras that provide live imagery of every reactor.”

Data security

Providing secure access to experimental data is critical to the digital biomanufacturing approach, according to Culture Biosciences’ chief of staff, Max Gilbert. “The quality and security of the data we provide to our customers is our number one priority. We have detailed protocols, policies, and procedures both in the lab and in our data infrastructure to ensure that every client’s data is kept strictly confidential and is only available to that customer.”

Giving biopharma a web accessible process development laboratory should significantly accelerate the process, according to Gilbert. “Our goal is to provide the tools and resources to every company in the industry to enable them to run more bioreactor experiments more quickly and easily. Our customers are responsible for designing their experiments and we guarantee the execution of those experiments; in other words, they are the head and we are the hands.”

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