Building on liquid assets
Traditionally, bioproduction media are sourced as liquids in the laboratory and through the early stages of the scale-up process, moving to powder when the bioreactor volume becomes much greater. Although there may be some financial benefits to switching over, the extra cost of bringing in ready-made liquid media may be offset by other major advantages relating to efficient use of skilled labour, lower capital outlay, reduced documentation requirements and QA/QC benefits.
Chemical weighing of dry powder media in the dispensary at the Irvine facility
Decisions on whether to choose powdered or pre-mixed liquid growth media for volume biopharmaceutical production is often based on upfront costs. Joanna Hudson, Head of Europe Technical Sales at SAFC, argues that there is more to consider.
Liquid media are essential raw materials in the bioproduction process. They contain all the nutrients that cells need to grow, thrive and produce proteins when cultured in a bioreactor; nutrients such as glucose, L-glutamate, amino acids and often other additional components such as growth factors and antifoams. These complex mixtures are generally optimised for the specific cell culture that is being grown, and the majority nowadays will be animal-component free.
In the lab, where quantities are small and speed is of the essence, media are usually purchased in a ready-made liquid format specifically formulated to meet the needs of the type of cell that is being cultured and the protein it has been engineered to produce. Traditionally, media would continue to be sourced as liquids through the early stages of the scale-up process, with the tipping point for moving away from liquid media being Phase III, where the number of doses needed ramps up significantly.
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