Facility Design/Engineering

Connect Upstream, Portrait, Stefan Schlack

Addressing the Challenges of Developing Biopharmaceutical Drugs

The biopharmaceutical industry is enjoying considerable success. Its products account for about a fifth of world pharmaceutical revenues, which are growing at twice the pace of those generated by most traditional chemically synthesized drugs. Biopharmaceuticals populate the list of best-selling drugs, and a number have achieved blockbuster status. Biotechnology stocks have outperformed the general market as investment has flowed into the industry. As with other highly profitable markets, the market for biopharmaceuticals has become increasingly competitive. Reflecting this fact, in…

Photo 1: Merck manufacturing  site in West Point, PA

A Single-Use, Clinical-Scale Filling System: From Design to Delivery

Single-use components have been successfully incorporated into many unit operations for both upstream and downstream processing, from laboratory scale to commercial manufacturing. The development of single-use filling needles has created an opportunity to introduce fully disposable systems into final formulation and filling of drug products (1). One major challenge in replacing a cleanable filling line containing stainless steel needles is to ensure that an alternative system can satisfy all critical performance parameters established for an existing process. In 2012, Merck…

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Special Report on Continuous Bioprocessing: Upstream, Downstream, Ready for Prime Time?

Once an engineering curiosity and smallscale laboratory technique, continuous bioprocessing has evolved in just a few short years to a topic of intense and increasing interest to most bioprocessors. Critics point to a steep learning/adoption curve, but that is nothing new in biomanufacturing.Andrew Zydney is a distinguished professor of chemical engineering at Pennsylvania State University. He has noted these challenges facing continuous processing: commercially unproven unit operations (especially downstream), a lack of equipment robustness, sterility concerns, and uncertain development timelines…

Figure 1: The cell therapy factory of the future

Factories of the Future: Can Patient-Specific Cell Therapies Get There from Here?

In many ways, patient-specific cell therapies (PSCTs) are still the “new kid on the block” in medicine. Researchers, therapeutic developers, manufacturers, regulators, and payers are still exploring and developing an understanding of the powerful benefits and unique challenges associated with this growing industry. As we all become more familiar with PSCTs, an evolution will need to occur — as it has for automobiles, computers, and every technological advance in human history — for these therapies to become widely adopted, cost-efficient,…

© INVETECH 2016 (WWW.INVETECH.COM)

Automation in Cell Therapy Manufacturing

The concept of automation conjures up images of robots on assembly lines or perhaps automobiles replacing horse-drawn carriages. In both examples, automation provides an ability to work tirelessly, with reproducible high-quality outputs at increased speed. For cell therapy, automation can be used to increase the scale of cell culture operations (e.g., bioreactors replacing flasks) and allow the use of closed systems that can protect cell products from contamination with adventitious agents from the environment or operators themselves. Closed systems also…

Insulin injection

Insulin in Demand: Engineering a Facility to Serve Local and International Markets

Discovered in 1922 at the University of Toronto (by Frederick Banting and John James Rickard Macleod), insulin has been produced from animal extract, primarily cattle and pigs. Following Frederick Sanger’s work on insulin sequence in 1951, Dorothy Hogkin published in 1969 the three-dimensional structure of insulin. This breakthrough led to many developments and applications of recombinant DNA for the production of insulin, human first and then analogs. The significant increase in the diabetic population — especially in BRICS countries (Brazil,…

Upstream processing at an IDT Biologika facility in Germany (left) and a SynCo Bio Partners facility in the Netherlands (right) (WWW.IDT-BIOLOGIKA.COM) (WWW.SYNCOBIOPARTNERS.COM)

Advances in Bioprocessing: Single-Use and Stainless Steel Technologies

The increasing penetration of disposable devices in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry has been well documented, and with good reason. These applications represent a new paradigm in the evolution of biomanufacturing technologies and practices, opening the industry up to new possibilities such as flexible and modular facilities. But stainless steel applications and innovations remain vital to this industry. Some stainless devices may be irreplaceable, including large tanks, autoclavable and heat-sterilized fermentors and bioreactors, and storage and filling devices. Other innovations in…

Flexible pilot facility with a 350L stainless steel bioreactor  and a 1,000-L single-use bioreactor.

Meeting the Demand for a New Generation of Flexible and Agile Manufacturing Facilities: An Engineering Challenge

Classical stainless steel installations in purpose-built facilities dominate the global capacity for commercial biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Early facilities that were designed for single-product processes are now aging, putting them on the investment radar for upgrades to enable manufacturing diversity, and allow more efficient facility use. More than ever before, global engineering leaders are confronted with complex strategic and financial decisions when they seek to invest capital in new flexible pharmaceutical facilities or flex-grading aging facilities for supply of pipeline products. Manufacturing…

One example of a hybrid approach from Cook Pharmica (WWW.COOKPHARMICA.COM)

Single-Use and Stainless Steel Technologies: Comparison, Contrast — Where Are They Going?

At a recent conference, there was much talk about a major biopharmaceutical project in Asia for which the owner of a company chose a design with primarily traditional multiuse stainless steel tanks and processing equipment, rather than single-use polymer equipment. There were even some stainless steel equipment vendors toasting at the bar that this may be the beginning of a “renaissance” of stainless steel. Is the single-use systems (SUS) honeymoon over? Are many industry professionals hoping this is the end…

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Implementing Flexible, Scalable, and Cost-Efficient Bioprocess Platforms: A Proven Project Management Approach

Although significant scientific progress has been made in the biotechnology industry, it has lagged behind other sectors — such as aviation and automotive — in developing, scaling up, and industrializing products coming out of R&D. The goal is to implement robust and reliable manufacturing processes for good manufacturing practice (GMP) market supply cost-effectively. But manufacturing methods for biologics have remained unchanged for decades, with large-scale, capital-intensive stainless steel facilities taking three to five years to build and remaining both energy…