I first met Chris Mach at the Biotech Week Boston conference in October. We discussed the challenges that biomanufacturers are facing in cell expansion, especially in three specific areas in scale-up systems.
Stack Vessels: Mach said many of his company’s customers are currently facing challenges with selecting the right platforms for growing their cells or viruses. He pointed out that stack vessels perform extremely well in different applications (e.g., for cell therapies), and they’re compact and disposable. “Many customers do not need to invest in large-scale capacities. They can do what they need in a very quick and robust period of time.” Corning provides systems with surface chemistry for adherent cell attachment (e.g., CellSTACK HYPERStack systems). Such chemistries can provide the right environment for cells or viruses to grow and maintain a healthy profile.
Chemically Defined Media: More than ever, regulators ask biomanufacturers to limit their use of animal-derived materials, especially in cell culture media and components. Such media typically are not available for either immune cell therapies or stem cell therapies. “The medium is the most important selection. If cells don’t grow, it doesn’t matter what vessel you put them in,” says Mach. The company’s NutriStem hPSC XF product is a serum-free, chemically defined, xeno-free medium that comes ready to use and maintains the undifferentiation of cells. It allows culture of human pluripotent stem cells without using a large amount of fibroblast growth factors or cytokines
Microcarriers: Manufacturers working with adherent stem cells must select the right microcarriers with the right surface chemistries for their cell types. One of the company’s newer innovations is its development of synthetic microcarriers in animal-component–free media (e.g., for growing human mesenchymal stem cells, hMSCs). The company plans to commercialize microcarriers that are presterilized and dissolvable during harvest, thus solving problems with cells that cannot be separated easily from microcarriers. “Without microcarrier separation, cells are recovered with fewer steps,” says Mach.