Therapeutic proteins, including monoclonal antibodies, are typically manufactured using clonally-derived, stable host cell lines, since consistent and predictable cell culture performance is highly desirable. However, selecting and preparing banks of stable clones takes considerable time, which inevitably extends overall development timelines for new therapeutics by delaying the start of subsequent activities, such as the scale-up of manufacturing processes. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its intense pressure for accelerated development strategies, we used a novel transposon-based Leap-In Transposase® system to rapidly generate high-titer stable pools and then used them directly for large scale-manufacturing of an anti-SARS-CoV2 monoclonal antibody under cGMP. We performed the safety testing of our non-clonal cell bank, then used it to produce material at a 200L-scale for pre-clinical safety studies and formulation development work, and thereafter at 2000L scale for supply of material for a Phase 1 clinical trial. Testing demonstrated the comparability of critical product qualities between the two scales and, more importantly, that our final clinical trial product met all pre-set product quality specifications. The above expediated approach provided clinically-ready material within 4.5 months, in comparison to 12-14 months for production of clinical trial material via the conventional approach.
Generally, high bioelectroactivity of anodophilic biofilm favors high power generation of microbial fuel cell (MFC), however, it is not clear whether it can promote denitrification of MFC synchronously. In this study, the impact of anodophilic biofilms bioelectroactivity on denitrification behavior of single-chamber air-cathode MFC (SAMFC) in steady state was studied for the first time. Anodophilic biofilms of various bioelectroactivity were acclimated at conditions of open circuit (OC), Rext of 1000Ω and 20Ω (denoted as SAMFC-OC, SAMFC-1000Ω and SAMFC-20Ω, respectively) and run for 100 days in the presence of nitrate. Electrochemical tests and microbial analysis results showed that the anode of the SAMFC-20Ω delivered higher oxidation and denitrification current response and had a higher abundance of electroactive bacteria, like Geobacter, Pseudomonas and Comamonas, which possessed bidirectional electron transfer function, demonstrating a higher bioelectroactivity of the anodophilic biofilm. Moreover, these electroactive bacteria favored the accumulation of denitrifers, like Thauera and Alicycliphilus, probably by consuming trace oxygen through catalyzing oxygen reduction. The SAMFC-20Ω not only delivered a 61.7% higher power than the SAMFC-1000Ω, but also achieved a stable and high denitrification rate constant (kDN) of 1.9, which was 50% and 40% higher than that of the SAMFC-OC and SAMFC-1000Ω, respectively. It could be concluded that the high bioelectroactivity of the anodophilic biofilms not only favored high power generation of the SAMFC, but also promote the growth of denitrifers at the anodes and strengthened denitrification. This study provided an effective method and important theoretical basis for enhancing power generation and denitrification performance of the SAMFC synchronously.
Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell lines are grown in cultures with varying asparagine and glutamine concentrations, but further study is needed to characterize the interplay between these amino acids. By following 13C-glucose, 13C-glutamine, and 13C-asparagine tracers using metabolic flux analysis (MFA), CHO cell metabolism was characterized in an industrially relevant fed-batch process under glutamine supplemented and low glutamine conditions during early and late exponential growth. For both conditions MFA revealed glucose as the primary carbon source to the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle followed by glutamine and asparagine as secondary sources. Early exponential phase CHO cells prefer glutamine over asparagine to support the TCA cycle under the glutamine supplemented condition, while asparagine was critical for TCA activity for the low glutamine condition. Overall TCA fluxes were similar for both conditions due to the trade-offs associated with reliance on glutamine and/or asparagine. However, glutamine supplementation increased fluxes to alanine, lactate and enrichment of glutathione, N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (NAG) and pyrimidine-containing-molecules. The late exponential phase exhibited reduced central carbon metabolism dominated by glucose, while lactate reincorporation and aspartate uptake were preferred over glutamine and asparagine. These 13C studies demonstrate that metabolic flux is process time dependent and can be modulated by varying feed composition.
Developing media to sustain cell growth and production is an essential and ongoing activity in bioprocess development. Modifications to media can often address host or product-specific challenges, such as low productivity or poor product quality. For other applications, systematic design of new media can facilitate the adoption of new industrially relevant alternative hosts. Despite manifold existing methods, common approaches for optimization often remain time and labor intensive. We present here a novel approach to conventional media blending that leverages stable, simple, concentrated stock solutions to enable rapid improvement of measurable phenotypes of interest. We applied this modular methodology to generate high-performing media for two phenotypes of interest: biomass accumulation and heterologous protein production, using high-throughput, milliliter-scale batch fermentations of Pichia pastoris as a model system. In addition to these examples, we also created a flexible open-source package for modular blending automation on a low-cost liquid handling system to facilitate wide use of this method. Our modular blending method enables rapid, flexible media development, requiring minimal labor investment and prior knowledge of the host organism, and should enable developing improved media for other hosts and phenotypes of interest.
Three dimensional printable formulation of self-standing and vascular-supportive structures using multi-materials suitable for organ engineering is of great importance and highly challengeable, but, it could advance the 3D printing scenario from printable shape to functional unit of human body. In this study, the authors report a 3D printable formulation of such self-standing and vascular-supportive structures using an in-house formulated multi-material combination of albumen/alginate/gelatin (A-SA-Gel)-based hydrogel. The rheological properties and relaxation behavior of hydrogels were analyzed prior to the printing process. The suitability of the hydrogel in 3D printing of various customizable and self-standing structures, including a human ear model, was examined by extrusion-based 3D printing. The structural, mechanical, and physicochemical properties of the printed scaffolds were studied systematically. Results supported the 3D printability of the formulated hydrogel with self-standing structures, which are customizable to a specific need. In vitro cell experiment showed that the formulated hydrogel has excellent biocompatibility and vascular supportive behavior with the extent of endothelial sprout formation when tested with human umbilical vein endothelial cells. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated the suitability of the extrusion-based 3D printing technique for manufacturing complex shapes and structures using multi-materials with high fidelity, which have great potential in organ engineering.
Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells in fed-batch cultures produce several metabolic byproducts derived from amino acid catabolism, some of which accumulate to growth inhibitory levels. Controlling the accumulation of these byproducts has been shown to significantly enhance cell proliferation. Interestingly, some of these byproducts have physiological roles that go beyond inhibition of cell proliferation. In this study, we show that, in CHO cell fed-batch cultures, branched chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolism contributes to the formation of butyrate, a novel byproduct that is also a well-established specific productivity enhancer. Further, the other byproducts of BCAA catabolism, isovalerate and isobutyrate, which accumulate in CHO cell fed-batch cultures also enhance specific productivity. Additionally, the rate of production of these BCAA catabolic byproducts was negatively correlated with glucose uptake and lactate production rates. Limiting glucose supply to suppress glucose uptake and lactate production, like in case of fed-batch cultures employing HiPDOG technology, significantly enhances BCAA catabolic byproduct accumulation resulting in higher specific productivities.
By integrating continuous cell cultures with continuous purification methods, process yields and product quality attributes were improved over the last 10 years for recombinant protein production. However, for the production of viral vectors such as Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), no such studies have been reported although there is an increasing need to meet the requirements for a rising number of clinical trials against infectious or neoplastic diseases. Here, we present for the first time a scalable suspension cell (AGE1.CR.pIX cells) culture-based perfusion process in bioreactors integrating continuous virus harvesting through an acoustic settler with semi-continuous chromatographic purification. This allowed to obtain purified MVA particles with a space-time yield >600% higher for the integrated perfusion process (1.05 x 1011 TCID50/Lbioreactor/day) compared to the integrated batch process. Without further optimization, purification by membrane-based steric exclusion chromatography resulted in an overall product recovery of 50.5%. To decrease the level of host cell DNA prior to chromatography, a novel inline continuous DNA digestion step was integrated into the process train. A detailed cost analysis comparing integrated production in batch versus production in perfusion mode showed that the cost per dose for MVA was reduced by nearly one third using this intensified small-scale process.
The realization of the enormous potential of stem cells requires development of efficient bioprocesses and optimization drawing drawn from mechanobiological considerations. Here, we emphasize the importance of mechanotransduction as one of the governing principles of stem cell bioprocesses, underscoring the need to further explore the behavioral mechanisms involved in sensing mechanical cues and coordinating transcriptional responses. We identify the sources of the intrinsic, extrinsic, and external noise in bioprocess under uncertainty, and discuss criteria and indicators that might assess and predict cell-to-cell variability resulting from environmental fluctuations. Specifically, we propose a conceptual framework to explain the impact of mechanical forces within cellular environment and identify key cell state determinants in bioprocess and discuss their implementation challenges.
Recombinant proteins are generally fused with solubility enhancer tags to improve target protein folding and solubility. However, the fusion protein strategy usually requires the use of expensive proteases to perform in vitro proteolysis and additional chromatography steps to obtain tag-free recombinant proteins. Expression systems based on intracellular processing of solubility tags in Escherichia coli, through co-expression of a site-specific protease, are useful for simplifying the recombinant protein purification process, for screening molecules that fail to remain soluble after tag removal, and to promote higher yields of soluble target protein. Herein, we review controlled intracellular processing (CIP) systems, tailored to produce soluble untagged proteins in E. coli. We discuss the different genetic systems available for intracellular protein processing regarding system design features, significant advantages and limitations of the various strategies.
Microfluidic impedance cytometry is a powerful system to measure micro and nano-sized particles and is routinely used in point-of-care settings disease diagnostics and other biomedical applications. However, small objects near a sensor’s detection limit are plagued with relatively significant background noise and are difficult to identify for every case. While many data processing techniques can be utilized to reduce noise and improve signal quality, frequently they are still inadequate to push sensor detection limits. Here, we report the first demonstration of a novel signal averaging algorithm effective in noise reduction of microfluidic impedance cytometry data, improving enumeration accuracy and reducing detection limits. Our device uses a 22 μm tall microchannel and gold coplanar microelectrodes that generates an electric field, recording bipolar pulses from polystyrene microparticles flowing through the channel. In addition to outlining a modified moving signal averaging technique theoretically and with a model dataset, we also performed a compendium of characterization experiments including variations in flow rate, input voltage, and particle size. Multi-variate metrics from each experiment are compared including signal amplitude, pulse width, background noise, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Incorporating our technique resulted in improved SNR and counting accuracy across all experiments conducted, and the limit of detection improved from 5 μm to 1 μm particles without modifying microchannel dimensions. Succeeding this, we envision implementing our modified moving average technique to develop next generation microfluidic impedance cytometry devices with an expanded dynamic range and improved enumeration accuracy. This can be exceedingly useful for many biomedical applications, such as infectious disease diagnostics where devices may enumerate larger-scale immune cells alongside sub-micron bacterium in the same sample.
In this work, we applied online chlorophyll a fluorescence measurements to monitor the changes in the photochemical parameters both in nitrate-deplete and nitrate-replete cultures of Nannochloropsis oceanica, in addition to biochemical parameters such as growth, lipid, fatty acid, and pigment contents. Under nitrate-replete conditions, growth was promoted along with pigment content, while total lipid content and fatty acid saturation level diminished. Under nitrate-deplete conditions, cultures showed an increased de-epoxidation state of the xanthophyll cycle pigments. Fast transients revealed a poor processing efficiency for electron transfer beyond QA, which was in line with the low electron transport rate due to nitrate depletion. Lipid content and the de-epoxidation state were the first biochemical parameters triggered by the change in nutrient status, which coincided with a 20% drop in the online effective quantum yield of PSII (ΔF/Fm’), and a raise in the Vj measurements. A good correlation was found between the changes in ΔF/Fm’ and lipid content (r=-0.96, p<0.01). The results confirm the reliability and applicability of online fluorescence measurements to monitor lipid induction in N. oceanica.
In vitro gut model systems permit the growth of gut microbes outside their natural habitat and are essential to the study of gut microbiota. Systems available today are limited by lack of scalability and flexibility in mode of operation. Here we describe the development of a versatile bioreactor module capable of sensing and controlling of environmental parameters such as pH control of culture medium, rate of influx and efflux of the culture medium, and aerobic/anaerobic atmosphere. Modules can be linked in series to construct a model of a digestive tract to allow the growth of microbiota in vitro. We tested the growth of a model bacterial community in a simulated mammalian gut model. The model attained and maintained a stable bacterial community that metabolized bile acids. The findings illustrate the utility of the model to grow to culture a mixed bacterial community and recapitulate biological activities such as bile acid metabolism in vitro.
The field of optogenetics is rapidly growing in relevance and number of developed tools. Amongst other things, the optogenetic repertoire includes light-responsive ion channels and methods for gene regulation. This review will be confined to the optogenetic control of gene expression in mammalian cells as suitable models for clinical applications. Here optogenetic gene regulation might offer an excellent method for spatially and timely regulated gene and protein expression in cell therapeutic approaches. Well-known systems for gene regulation, such as the LOV-, CRY2/CIB-, PhyB/PIF-systems, as well as other, in mammalian cells not yet fully established systems will be described. Advantages and disadvantages with regard to clinical applications are outlined in detail. Among the many unanswered questions concerning the application of optogenetics, we discuss items such as the use of exogenous chromophores and their effects on the biology of the cells and methods for a gentle, but effective gene transfection method for optogenetic tools for in vivo applications.
Luminescence, a physical phenomenon that producing cool light in vivo, has been found in bacteria, fungi and anminals but not yet in terrestrial higher plants. Through genetic engineering, it is feasible to introduce luminescence system into living plant cells as biomarkers. Recently, some plants transformed with luminescent systems can glimmer in darkness, which can be observed by our naked eyes and provide a novel lighting resource. In this review, we summarized the development of luminescence in plant cells, followed by exampling the successful cases of glowing plants transformed with diverse luminescent systems. The potential key factors to optimize a glowing plant are also discussed. Our review is useful for the creation of the optimized glowing plants, which can be used not only in scientific research, but also as promising substitutes of artificial light sources in the future.
Despite the potential of tissue engineering approaches for cartilage repair, a major shortcoming is the low biosynthetic response of chondrocytes. While different strategies have been investigated to upregulate tissue formation, a novel approach may be to control nutrient metabolism. Although known for their anaerobic metabolism of glucose, chondrocytes are more synthetically active when cultured under conditions that elicit mixed aerobic-anaerobic metabolism. Here, we postulate this metabolic switch induces hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) signaling leading to improved tissue growth. Transition to different metabolic states can result in the pooling of intracellular metabolites, several of which can stabilize HIF-1α by interfering with proline-hydroxylase-2 (PHD2). Chondrocytes cultured under increased media availability accelerated tissue deposition (2.2 to 3.5-fold) with the greatest effect occurring at intermediate volumes (2 mL/106 cells). Under higher media volumes, metabolism switched from anaerobic to mixed aerobic-anaerobic. At and beyond this transition, maximal changes in PHD2 activity (- 45%), HIF-1α protein expression (8-fold increase), and HIF-1 gene target expression were observed (2.0 to 2.7-fold increase). Loss-of-function studies using YC-1 (to degrade HIF-1α) confirmed the involvement of HIF-1 signaling under these conditions. Lastly, targeted metabolomic studies of glucose metabolites (14 in total) revealed that both intracellular lactate and succinate correlated with PHD2 activity. Although both metabolites can inhibit PHD2, this effect can most likely be attributed to lactate as succinate was only present in trace amounts. However, addition work (e.g., 13C flux analyses) are required to confirm this assertion. Nevertheless, by harnessing this newly identified metabolic switch, functional engineered cartilage implants may be developed without the need for sophisticated methods which would allow for improved translation into the clinical realm.
Enzymatic detachment of cells might damage important features of cells and could affect subsequent function of cells in various applications. Therefore, non-enzymatic cell detachment using thermosensitive polymer matrix is necessary for maintaining cell quality after harvesting. In this study, we synthesized thermosensitive PNIPAm-co-AAc-b-PS and PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS copolymers and LCST was tuned near to body temperature. Then, polymer solutions (5% w/v, 10% w/v, and 20% w/v) were spin coated to prepare films for cell adhesion and thermal-induced cell detachment. The apha-step analysis and SEM image of the films suggested that the thickness of the films depends on the molecular weight and concentration which ranged from 206 nm to 1330 nm for PNIPAm-co-AAc-b-PS and 97.5 nm to 497 nm for PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS. The contact angles of the films verified that the polymer surface was moderately hydrophilic at 37°C. From cell attachment and detachment studies, RAW264.7 cells, were convincingly proliferated on the films to a confluent of >80 % within 48 days. However, relatively more cells were grown on PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS (5%w/v) films and thermal-induced cell detachment was more abundant in this formulation. As a result, commercial cytodex 3 microcarrier was coated with PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS (5%w/v) and interestingly enhanced cell detachment with preserved potential of recovery was observed at low temperature during 3D culturing. Thus, surface modification of microcarriers with PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS could be vital strategy for non-enzymatic cell dissociation and able to achieve adequate number of cells with maximum cell viability, and functionality for various cell-based applications. Keywords: surface coated microcarriers; thermosensitive polymer; non-enzymatic cell detachment
Since 2014, an Asian lineage of Zika virus has caused outbreaks, and it has been associated with neurological disorders in adults and congenital defects in newborns. The resulting threat of the Zika virus to human health has prompted the development of new vaccines, which have yet to be approved for human use. Vaccines based on the attenuated or chemically inactivated virus will require large-scale production of the intact virus to meet potential global demands. Intact viruses are produced by infecting cultures of susceptible cells, a dynamic process that spans from hours to days and has yet to be optimized. Here, we infected Vero cells adhesively cultured in well-plates with two Zika virus strains: a recently isolated strain from the Asian lineage, and a cell-culture-adapted strain from the African lineage. At different time points post-infection, virus particles in the supernatant were quantified; further, microscopy images were used to quantify cell density and the proportion of cells expressing viral protein. These measurements were performed across multiple replicate samples of one-step infections every four hours over 60 hours and for multi-step infections every four to 24 hours over 144 hours, generating a rich dataset. For each set of data, mathematical models were developed to estimate parameters associated with cell infection and virus production. The African-lineage strain was found to produce a 14-fold higher yield than the Asian-lineage strain in one-step growth and a 7-fold higher titer in multi-step growth, suggesting a benefit of cell-culture adaptation for developing a vaccine strain. We found that image-based measurements were critical for discriminating among different models, and different parameters for the two strains could account for the experimentally observed differences. An exponential-distributed delay model performed best in accounting for multi-step infection of the Asian strain, and it highlighted the significant sensitivity of virus titer to the rate of viral degradation, with implications for optimization of vaccine production. More broadly, this work highlights how image-based measurements can contribute to discrimination of virus-culture models for the optimal production of inactivated and attenuated whole-virus vaccines.
This paper presents the development and testing of a low-cost (< $60), portable, electrical impedance based microflow cytometer for single cell analysis under controlled oxygen microenvironment. The system is based on an AD5933 impedance analyzer chip, a microfluidic chip, and an Arduino microcontroller operated by a custom Android application. A representative case study on human red blood cells (RBCs) affected by sickle cell disease is conducted to demonstrate the capability of the cytometry system. An equivalent circuit model of a suspended biological cell is used to interpret the electrical impedance of single flowing RBCs. RBCs exhibit decreased mean membrane capacitance by 24% upon hypoxia treatment while the mean cytoplasmic resistance remains consistent. RBCs affected by sickle cell disease exhibit decreased cytoplasmic resistance and increased membrane capacitance upon hypoxia treatment. Strong correlations are identified between the changes in the cells’ subcellular electrical components and the hypoxia-induced cell sickling process. The results reported in this paper suggest that the developed method of testing demonstrates the potential application for low-cost screening technique for sickle cell disease and other diseases in the field and low-resource settings. The developed system and methodology can be extended to analyze cellular response to hypoxia in other cell types.