Avantor partners with NIBRT to take on biopharma bottlenecks

Avantor has teamed up with Ireland’s NIBRT to develop solutions for “bottlenecks” that increase the cost and time it takes to make biopharmaceuticals.

Gareth Macdonald

November 20, 2019

3 Min Read
Avantor partners with NIBRT to take on biopharma bottlenecks
Image: DStanton

Avantor has teamed up with Ireland’s National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) to develop solutions for “bottlenecks” that increase the cost and time it takes to make biopharmaceuticals.

The collaboration – financial terms of which were not provided – will see Avantor install in-line dilution systems at NIBRT’s facility in Dublin, Ireland.

The idea is to provide technicians with hands-on experience of the technology according to Killian O’Driscoll, NIBRT director of projects.


Image: DStanton

“The in-line dilution technology will be installed in NIBRT facility, NIBRT will then develop training modules on this technology working closely with Arvantor and subsequently integrate this technology into our education and training curricula so that our 4,000+ trainees per year can develop competence with this technology,” O’Driscoll told Bioprocess Insider.

This was echoed by Ger Brophy, executive vice president of biopharma production at Avantor, who said the aim is to help industry find ways of accelerating production.

“Demand for therapeutic biologics is increasing and this will require increased manufacturing productivity.  At the same time, there is significant pressure on the biopharma industry to reduce overall costs while ensuring that safety and quality are not compromised.

“This has resulted in initiatives to improve efficiency and increase flexibility in bioprocessing facilities. Buffer management is a key process step which is prime for optimization” he said.

Buffering change

The other part of the collaboration will focus on buffer management.

Buffers are key to effective biopharmaceutical manufacturing, in both upstream and downstream operations. In the bioreactor, buffers are vital for optimizing culture conditions and ensuring productivity.

Downstream, buffers maintain purification conditions and control the ionization state of protein product prior to chromatography. In subsequent steps, buffers also stabilize the product while maintaining its functional characteristics.

In recent years many of the advances in biopharmaceutical production have involved buffers used in upstream processes. Downstream buffers and processes have struggled to keep pace with advances in the bioreactor, creating bottlenecks.

Avantor, effective buffer management can help advance bioprocessing production by reducing downstream bottlenecks and costs.

“The collaboration with NIBRT will provide industry leading buffer management training to help mitigate downstream challenges, which will help new therapies to reach patients faster and more cost effectively,” the firm said.

O’Driscoll told us: “NIBRT will develop modules on buffer management utilizing the Avantor technology which will be integrated into our training and education curricula.”


Government backed-NIBRT has been described as a “flight simulator” for biomanufacturing where technicians and companies can learn cutting edge manufacturing techniques and use now technologies.

Access to the technologies is achieved through collaborations and the Avantor deal is one of a number of agreements with tech firms signed in recent years.

In September, for example, the organization partnered with GE Healthcare to develop a training program for technicians involved in the production of cell and gene therapies.

Prior to that NIBRT teamed up with Kelly to develop a way of identifying bioactive components in plant-derived hydrolysates, which are used in media and feed formulation in the biopharmaceutical industry.

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