Orbital bioreactors set to shake up mammalian cell culture sector

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cell culture

ExcellGene’s OrbShake 250L mammalian cell culture bioreactor has equalled biomass productivity and oxygenation levels previously only achieved by traditional stirred tank systems.

The bioreactor, launched this week at the Achema 2009 conference in Frankfurt, Germany, applies​the orbital shaking mechanism used in prokaryotic culture systems to improve the mixing of mammalian cell suspension cultures.

The system features a cylindrical vessel containing a disposable, sterile bag with appropriate connection tubes for seeding, feeding, gas supply and harvesting which, ExcellGene claims, is simpler and less costly to operate than traditional bioreactors.

ExcellGene CSO Florian Wurm told in-PharmaTechnologist that: “Many people in the industry have not considered it feasible to adapt the principle of orbital shaking… to mammalian cells out of fear for sheer stress and insufficient oxygenation.

Yet, to the contrary, there is no system currently on the market that outperforms orbital shaking in terms of low levels of sheer stress and oxygenation​.”

Prof Wurm, who is also ExcellGene’s interim CEO, explained that orbital shaking generates higher mammalian cell culture biomass than stirred reactors “without any loss in specific productivity​.”

He also suggested that the ability to apply the same mixing principle from the ml to 1,000L reaction vessel size range will allow developers to model industrial scale-up more accurately than ever before.

Wurm went on to say that orbital shaking provides significant cost savings over stirred tank systems in terms of energy costs, consumption of consumables .

Markus Kuhner, CEO of the Swiss firm Kuhner that helped ExcellGene develop the technology for industrial biotechnology applications, also highlighted its potential advantages.

He said the platform “has opened our markets for incubator-shakers dramatically. We are now looking forward to a new system for growing cells in orbital shakers in scale and in technology, unthinkable just a few years ago​.”

Both Kuhner and French biotechnology services provider Sartorius-Stedim will commercialise the orbital shaking technology.

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