Study of a Single-Use Stirred Tank Bioreactor for Manufacturing a Therapeutic Protein in a High Cell Density Microbial Fermentation

By Angus Thompson and Shaunah Rutter
Volume 20, Open Access (Nov 2021)

Stirred tank single-use bioreactors (SUBs) have been widely adopted for production of biopharmaceuticals such as monoclonal antibodies in mammalian cell culture. However, they are seldom used for commercial production of biologics with microbial fermentation. SUBs offer time-saving advantages because they do not require significant downtime for cleaning and sterilization, so finding a SUB that can perform well with high cell density microbial fermentation processes has the potential to increase the number of production runs. Therefore, for this study, a His-tagged protease inhibitor was chosen as a model protein to demonstrate that the Sartorius Biostat STR® MO, a SUB recently developed for microbial fermentation, is suited for recombinant protein production by high cell density Escherichia coli fermentation processes.

At 50 L scale, the SUB achieved good process control and allowed an oxygen uptake rate (OUR) of up to 240 mmoles/L/h. The fermentation runs produced up to 5.8 g/L of the soluble recombinant protein and a dry cell weight of >60 g/L at the end of fermentation. Additionally, the SUB showed a similar fermentation profile when compared with data from parallel runs in 15 L sterilise-in-place (SIP) vessels using identical media and process parameters. This study indicates that with a minimum investment of capital resources, stirred tank SUBs could be used in pilot-scale manufacturing with high cell density microbial fermentations to potentially shorten the timelines and costs of advancing therapeutic proteins to clinic.

Thompson A, Rutter S. Study of a single-use stirred tank bioreactor for manufacturing a therapeutic protein in a high cell density microbial fermentation. BioProcess J, 2021; 20.

Posted online November 5, 2021.