Scaling up production is one of the biggest challenges confronting R&D labs today, especially due to the steep upfront capital investment required, as well as labor costs to ensure proper scale up procedures. For example, stainless steel bioreactors, which can range in size from 10 L to 20,000 L, are very expensive purchases that also incur ongoing maintenance and labor costs. This has pushed the market to rapidly adopt single-use technologies for biopharmaceutical production scale-up. With single-use technologies, R&D labs can acquire disposable technologies at a fraction of the cost while reducing set-up and cleaning time, resulting in cost efficient production and faster time to market.
However, even single use technologies can require capital investments to aid in scale up. Single use bags for cell culture applications involve investment in specialized equipment, including rocker platforms, exhaust heaters, and air and media pumps. In order to effectively scale up, especially for suspension cells, some initial capital investment will be required to ensure adequate gas exchange through agitation (mixing, stirring, shaking). For these applications, scientist can use standard lab equipment such as stir plates and shaking platforms that are commonly found in R&D labs.
Recently, Dr. Ciaran Cronin and his team at Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development Medicine demonstrated a more cost-efficient method for scaling up recombinant protein production in the baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) using large Erlenmeyer flasks and standard laboratory equipment. Using insect cells, Pfizer was able to effectively maximize the fill volume and produce recombinant proteins at 90% fill volume for the Corning 5L Erlenmeyer flask, making it a “high-volume” Erlenmeyer Flask. With minimal equipment, this requires little need to consider capital acquisition associated with other disposable costs. This makes Corning Erlenmeyer Flasks an excellent choice for cost-efficient scale up.
As stated in Dr. Cronin’s report, “the adoption of high-volume shake flasks for recombinant protein production in insect cells has a number of advantages over other disposables in terms of equipment and disposables costs.”
Download the technical poster detailing Dr. Cronin’s work