Laboratory Equipment

Enabling Technologies

Many technological advancements in recent years have enabled companies to shorten time to market, to better understand their manufacturing processes, and to characterize their products well. In BPI’s December 2013 issue (pages 47–50), I reported on the first half of an informal reader survey about those technologies, with commentary from some survey participants and others. This month concludes with my examination of analytical, formulation/fill–finish, and facilities technologies. Analytical Technologies After writing several installments of our new “BPI Lab” series this…

Analysis By Size and Charge

An early BPI Lab article addressed the power of liquid chromatographic separations for biopharmaceutical laboratory use (1). Such techniques separate biomolecules based on a number of different properties: size, solubility, hydrophobicity/-philicity, binding affinity. The next most powerful means of separation — and thus high-resolution identification — of nucleic acids and proteins/peptides is based primarily on electrostatic properties: electrophoresis. Although it doesn’t really work in a process or preparative setting, it is a fundamental technique in modern biopharmaceutical laboratories, where it…

Assay Acceptance Criteria for Multiwell-Plate–Based Biological Potency Assays

For most biopharmaceuticals, potency is assessed in a bioassay by comparing dose–response curves of the test material and a reference standard. As with all analytical techniques, such assays require criteria by which their execution can be judged objectively to be valid, regardless of whether the desired or expected result is obtained for the test sample. PRODUCT FOCUS: BIOLOGICSPROCESSFOCUS: R&D, QCWHO SHOULD READ: PRODUCT AND PROCESS DEVELOPMENT, ANALYTICAL, QCKEYWORDS: IMMUNOASSAYS, POTENCY ASSAYS, PRODUCT RELEASE, REFERENCE STANDARDS, CONTROL SAMPLES, SAMPLE ACCEPTANCELEVEL: ADVANCED…

Design of Experiments for Fed-Batch Process Development in Shaken Cultures

When designing a recombinant protein production process, a high number of parallel cultivations must be carried out. That task is typically performed using batch cultures in shake flasks or microwell plates, in which fermentation conditions are not monitored. To overcome that limitation, we combined the SensorDish Reader and Shake Flask Reader systems (from PreSens) with an enzymatic glucose delivery system (EnBase technology from BioSilta Oy) for Escherichia coli cultivations. Our objective was to determine whether SensorDish reader cultures would yield…

Robots in the Laboratory

Whether cell-based or molecular biology focused, most assays performed in biopharmaceutical laboratories involve liquid solutions. Increasingly, automated liquid handlers (laboratory robotics) are demonstrating utility in these labs, especially for high-throughput screening and optimization of cell culture media, chromatography conditions, formulations, and so on. Some experts say that screening 100,000 samples/day will soon become routine. But the robots haven’t condemned all manual pipettes to the trash heap — far from it. With multichannel and electronic pipettes improving throughput and reproducibility of…

Cellular Communications

Like spectroscopy, as discussed in BPI Lab last month (1), cell signaling is not a laboratory technique but rather an area of scientific study. The environment of living cells — whether prokaryotic or eukaryotic, in vitro or in vivo — comprises not only water, nutrients, waste products, and metabolites, but also molecules released by other cells in response to intracellular events such as microbial infection and disease state or environmental factors such as temperature, osmolality, and pH. Receptor proteins on…

Container–Closure Integrity

An increasing number of biopharmaceuticals — including vaccines, stem cells, and proteins — require cold storage to maintain efficacy before use. However, the ability to maintain container–closure integrity (CCI) during cold storage is not completely understood. Concerns about CCI failure have been raised for storage and shipment of such products in rubber-stoppered vials under cold conditions (e.g., −80 °C or on dry ice). Commonly used butyl stoppers are believed to lose their elastic properties below their glass transition temperature (Tg),…

Enlightening Results

Separating spectroscopy from spectrometry is not as straightforward as it might seem. Spectroscopy is the science of the interactions between matter and radiated energy, and spectrometry is the technology that applies that science (1). The former generates no results on its own. It is concerned with spectra produced when matter interacts with or emits electromagnetic radiation, including all methods of producing and analyzing light spectra using spectroscopes, spectrographs, spectrometers, and spectrophotometers. The distinction should come from the meanings of the…

NIR Spectroscopy for Process Monitoring and Control in Mammalian Cell Cultivation

The quality by design (QbD) and process analytical technology (PAT) approaches have shown significant benefit in the classical pharmaceutical industry and are now strongly influencing bioprocessing. Monitoring critical process parameters (CPPs) during biotechnological cell cultivations is essential to maintaining high efficiencies and quality. Commercial sensor systems for real-time inline monitoring are available for some parameters, such as pH or the concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO). For others such as glucose concentration, total cell count (TCC), and viability no robust online…

Automation of Microbioreactors

Current methodologies in genetics and microbiology enable researchers to influence metabolic pathways of microbial cells in many directions. Beside the academic interest in investigating fundamental functions in metabolic pathways, commercial production of valuable compounds by microbial hosts is state of the art. For example, such products include enzymes (lipases, proteases, phytases), therapeutic agents (insulin, antibodies), bulk chemicals (lysine, glutamate, citric acid), or the microbial cells themselves (used in brewing or milk processing), with therapeutic agents probably the fastest growing market.…