The actinomycete Lentzea aerocolonigenes produces the antitumor antibiotic rebeccamycin. In previous studies the rebeccamycin production was significantly increased by the addition of glass beads during cultivation in different diameters between 0.5 – 2 mm and the induced mechanical stress by the glass beads was proposed to be responsible for the increased production. Thus, this study was conducted to be a systematic investigation of different parameters for macroparticle addition, such as bead diameter, concentration and density (glass and ceramic) as well as shaking frequency, for a better understanding of the particle induced stress on L. aerocolonigenes. The induced stress for optimal rebeccamycin production can be estimated by a combination of stress energy and stress frequency. In addition, the macroparticle-enhanced cultivation of L. aerocolonigenes was combined with soy lecithin addition to further increase the rebeccamycin concentration. With 100 g L-1 glass beads in a diameter of 969 µm and 5 g L-1 soy lecithin a concentration of 388 mg L 1 rebeccamycin was reached after 10 days of cultivation, which corresponds to the highest rebeccamycin concentrations achieved in shake flask cultivations of L. aerocolonigenes stated in literature so far.
Molecular diagnosis is an essential means to detect pathogens. The portable nucleic acid detection chip has excellent prospects in places where medical resources are scarce, and it is also of research interest in the field of microfluidic chips. Here, the paper developed a new type of microfluidic chip for nucleic acid detection where stretching acts as the driving force. The sample entered the chip by applying capillary force. The strain valve was opened under the action of tensile force, and the spring pump generated the power to drive the fluid to flow to the detection chamber in a specific direction. The detection of COVID-19 was realized on the chip. The RT-LAMP amplification system was adopted to observe the liquid color in the detection chamber to decide whether the sample tested positive or negative qualitatively.
The most effective way to prevent and control infectious disease outbreak is through vaccines. The increasing use of vaccines has elevated the need to establish new manufacturing strategies. One of the major approaches is cell-based production, which creates a need for high cell density to enable higher cell production levels. This has led to development of the technology of cell carriers, including micro and macro cell carriers. To follow the production process, quantifying the number of cells on these carriers is required, as well as the tracking of their viability and proliferation. However, owing to various carriers’ unique structures, tracking the cell’s is challenging using current traditional assays that were originally developed for monolayers of adherent cells. The current “gold standard” method is counting cell nuclei, separating cells from the carrier, staining with crystal violet and visually counting under a microscope. This method is tedious and counts both live and dead cells. A few other techniques were developed but were specific to the carrier type and involved specialized equipment. In this study, we describe a broadly ranging method for counting cells on carriers that was developed and employed as part of the production of a vaccine for use in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The method is based on the Alamar blue dye, a well-known, common marker for cell activity, and was found to be successful in tracking cell adsorption, cell growth and viability on carriers. No separation of the cells from the carriers is needed, nor is any specialized equipment; the method is simple and rapid, and provides comprehensive details necessary for process control of viral vaccine production in cells. This method can be easily implemented in any of a number of cell-based processes and other unique platforms for measuring growth of encapsulated cells.
Predicting the fate of a microbial population (i.e., growth, gene expression…) remains a challenge, especially when this population is exposed to very dynamic environmental conditions, such as those encountered during continuous cultivation. Indeed, the dynamic nature of continuous cultivation process implies the potential deviation of the microbial population involving genotypic and phenotypic diversification. This work has been focused on the induction of the arabinose operon in Escherichia coli as a model system. As a preliminary step, the GFP level triggered by an arabinose-inducible ParaBAD promoter has been tracked by flow cytometry in chemostat with glucose-arabinose co-feeding. For a large range of glucose-arabinose co-feeding, the simultaneous occurrence of GFP positive and negative subpopulation was observed. In a second set of experiments, continuous cultivation was performed by adding either glucose or arabinose, based on the ability of individual cells for switching from low GFP to high GFP states, according to a technology called segregostat. In segregostat mode of cultivation, on-line flow cytometry analysis was used for adjusting the arabinose/glucose transitions based on the phenotypic switching capabilities of the microbial population. This strategy allowed finding an appropriate arabinose pulsing frequency, leading to a prolonged maintenance of the induction level with limited impact on phenotypic diversity for more than 60 generations. This result suggests that constraining individual cells into a given phenotypic trajectory is maybe not the best strategy for directing cell population. Instead, allowing individual cells switching around a predefined threshold seems to be a robust strategy leading to oscillating, but predictable, cell population behavior.
Commercial production of therapeutic proteins using mammalian cells requires complex process solutions, and consistency of these process solutions is critical to maintaining product titer and quality between batches. Inconsistencies between process solutions prepared at bench and commercial scale may be due to differences in mixing time, temperature, and pH which can lead to precipitation and subsequent removal via filtration of critical solution components such as trace metals. Pourbaix diagrams provide a useful tool to model the solubility of trace metals and were applied to troubleshoot the scale-up of nutrient feed preparation after inconsistencies in product titer were observed between bench- and manufacturing-scale batches. Pourbaix diagrams modeled the solubility of key metals in solution at various stages of the nutrient feed preparation and identified copper precipitation as the likely root cause of inconsistent media stability at commercial scale. Copper precipitation increased proportionally with temperature in bench-scale preparations of nutrient feed and temperature was identified as the root cause of copper precipitation at the commercial scale. Additionally, cell culture copper titration studies performed in bench-scale bioreactors linked copper-deficient mammalian cell culture to inconsistent titers at the commercial scale. Pourbaix diagrams can predict when trace metals are at risk of precipitating and can be used to mitigate risk during the scale-up of complex media preparations.
Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans are acidophilic chemolithoautotrophs that are commonly reported to exhibit diauxic population growth behavior where ferrous iron is oxidized before elemental sulfur when both are available, despite the higher energy content of sulfur. We have discovered sulfur dispersion formulations that enables sulfur oxidation before ferrous iron oxidation. The oxidation of dispersed sulfur can lower the culture pH within days below the range where aerobic ferrous iron oxidation can occur so that ferric iron reduction occurs which had previously been reported over extended incubation periods with untreated sulfur. Therefore, we demonstrate that this substrate utilization pattern is strongly dependent on the cell loading in relation to sulfur concentration, sulfur surface hydrophobicity, and the pH of the culture. Our dispersed sulfur formulation, lig-sulfur, can be used to support the rapid antibiotic selection of plasmid-transformed cells, which is not possible in liquid cultures where ferrous iron is the main source of energy for these acidophiles. Furthermore, we find that media containing lig-sulfur supports higher production of green fluorescent protein (GFP) compared to media containing ferrous iron. The use of dispersed sulfur is a valuable new tool for the development of engineered A. ferrooxidans strains and it provides a new method to control iron and sulfur oxidation behaviors.
Seasonal influenza infection waves occur both in northern and southern hemispheres every year. Despite the differences in influenza virus surface antigens and virulence of seasonal subtypes, manufacturers are well-adapted to respond to this periodical vaccine demand. Due to decades of influenza virus research, the development of new influenza vaccines is relatively straight-forward. Nevertheless, compared to the recent Covid-19 pandemic where a vaccine is not yet available, influenza vaccine manufacturing would be a major bottleneck for the rapid supply of billions of doses required worldwide. In particular, egg-based vaccine production would be difficult to schedule and shortages of other egg-based vaccines with high demands also have to be anticipated. Cell culture-based production systems enable manufacturing of large amounts of vaccines within a short time frame and expand significantly our options to respond to pandemics and emerging viral diseases. In this work, we present an integrated process for the production of inactivated influenza A virus vaccines based on a MDCK suspension cell line cultivated in a chemically defined medium. Very high titers of 3.6 log10(HAU/100 µL) were achieved using fast growing MDCK cells at concentrations up to 9.5 × 106 cells/mL infected with influenza A/PR/8/34 H1N1 virus in 1 L stirred tank bioreactors. A combination of two membrane-based chromatography steps enabled full recovery for the virus capture and up to 80 % recovery for the virus polishing step, respectively. Purified virus particles showed a homogenous size distribution around a mean diameter of 80 nm. Based on a monovalent dose of 15 µg hemagglutinin (SRID assay), the level of total protein was 58 µg and the level of host cell DNA contamination was below 10 ng. Furthermore, all process steps can be fully scaled up to industrial quantities for commercial manufacturing of either seasonal or pandemic influenza virus vaccines. Fast production of up to 300 vaccine doses per liter within 4 to 5 days makes this process competitive not only to other cell-based processes, but to egg-based processes as well.
Mucociliary clearance is a crucial event that supports the elimination of inhaled particles, bacteria, pollution and hazardous agents from the human airways, and it also limits the diffusion of aerosolized drugs into the airway epithelium. In spite of its relevance, few in vitro models sufficiently address the cumulative effect of the steric and interactive barrier function of mucus on the one hand, and the dynamic mucus transport imposed by ciliary mucus propulsion on the other hand. Here, ad hoc mucus models of physiological and pathological mucus are combined with magnetic artificial cilia to model mucociliary transport in both physiological and pathological states. The Lego®-like concept adopted, in this study, enables the development of mucociliary clearance models with high versatility, since these can be easily modified to reproduce phenomena characteristic of healthy and diseased human airways, while allowing to determine the effect of each parameter and/or structure separately on the overall mucociliary transport. These Lego®-like airway models can be available off-the-shelf because they are exclusively made of readily available materials, thus ensuring reproducibility across different laboratories.
Fungal pathogens cause extensive plant diseases that damage crop production in the agricultural industry, resulting in annual crop loss, diminished food security, and historically significant epidemics. Though effective fungicides are available, their risks to the environment and animal health have increased the demand for more sustainable methods to control fungal pathogens. In plants, polygalacturonic-inhibiting proteins (PGIPs) play critical roles for resistance to fungal disease by inhibiting the pectin-depolymerizing activity of endopolygalacturonases (PGs), one type of enzyme secreted by pathogens that compromise plant cell walls and leave the plant susceptible to disease. Here, the interactions between PGIPs from Phaseolus vulgaris (PvPGIP1 and PvPGIP2) and PGs from Aspergillus niger (AnPG2), Botrytis cinerea (BcPG1, BcPG2), and Fusarium moniliforme (FmPG3) were reconstituted through a yeast two hybrid (Y2H) system to investigate the inhibition efficiency of various PvPGIP1 and 2 truncations and mutants. We found that tPvPGIP2_5-8, which contains LRR5 to LRR8 and is of only one-third the size of the full-length peptide, exhibits the same level of interactions with AnPG and BcPGs as the full length PvPGIP2 via Y2H. The inhibitory activities of tPvPGIP2_5-8 on the growth of A. niger were then examined and confirmed on pectin agar. Application of both full length PvPGIP2 and tPvPGIP2_5-8 clearly slows down the growth of A. niger and B. cinerea in the presence of pectin. The investigation on the sequence-function correlation of PvPGIP2 suggests that LRR5 could have the most essential structural feature for the inhibitory activities, and may be a possible target for the future engineering of PGIP with enhanced activity. This work highlights the potential of using plant-derived PGIPs as an exogenously applied fungal control agent both to plants and postharvest crops while minimally impacting the environment and human health.
The pathophysiological response following spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized by a complex cellular cascade that limits regeneration. Biomaterial and stem cell combination therapies have shown synergistic effects, compared to their interventions independent of each other, and represent a promising approach towards regaining function after injury. In this study, we combine our polyethylene glycol (PEG) cell delivery platform with lentiviral-mediated overexpression of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 to improve embryonic day 14 (E14) spinal progenitor transplant survival. PEG tubes loaded with lentivirus encoding for IL-10 were implanted immediately following injury into a mouse SCI hemisection model. Two weeks after tube implantation, mouse E14 spinal progenitors were injected directly into the integrated tubes, which served as a soft substrate for cell transplantation. Together, the tubes with the IL-10 encoding lentivirus improved E14 spinal progenitor survival, assessed at two weeks post-transplantation (four weeks post-injury). Mice receiving IL-10 lentivirus-laden tubes had on average 8.1% of E14 spinal progenitors survive compared to 0.7% in mice receiving transplants without tubes, an 11.5-fold difference. Surviving E14 spinal progenitors gave rise to neurons when injected into tubes. Additionally, axon elongation and remyelination was observed, in addition to a faster rate of functional recovery in mice receiving anti-inflammatory tubes with E14 spinal progenitor delivery. This system affords increased control over the transplantation microenvironment, offering the potential to improve stem cell-mediated tissue regeneration.
Increasing demands for protein-based therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins, bispecific molecules and antibody fragments require researchers to constantly find innovative solutions. To increase yields and decrease costs of next generation bioprocesses, highly concentrated cell culture media formulations are developed but often limited by the low solubility of amino acids such as tyrosine, cystine, leucine and isoleucine, in particular at physiological pH. This work sought to investigate highly soluble and bioavailable derivatives of leucine and isoleucine that are applicable for fed-batch processes. N-lactoyl-leucine and N-lactoyl-isoleucine sodium salts were tested in cell culture media and proved to be beneficial to increase the overall solubility of cell culture media formulations. These modified amino acids proved to be bioavailable for various Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and were suitable for replacement of canonical amino acids in cell culture feeds. The quality of the final recombinant protein was studied in bioprocesses using the derivatives, and the mechanism of cleavage was investigated in CHO cells. Altogether, both N-lactoyl amino acids represent an advantageous alternative to canonical amino acids to develop highly concentrated cell culture media formulations to support next generation bioprocesses.
Cyclohexanone monooxygenase (CHMO), a member of the Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenase family, is a versatile biocatalyst that efficiently catalyzes the conversion of cyclic ketones to lactones. In this study, an Acidovorax-derived CHMO gene was expressed in Pseudomonas taiwanensis VLB120. Upon purification, the enzyme was characterized in vitro and shown to feature a broad substrate spectrum and up to 100% conversion in 6 h. Further, we determined and compared the cyclohexanone conversion kinetics for different CHMO-biocatalyst formats, i.e., isolated enzyme, suspended whole cells, and biofilms, the latter two based on recombinant CHMO-containing P. taiwanensis VLB120. Biofilms showed less favorable values for KS (9.3-fold higher) and kcat (4.8-fold lower) compared to corresponding KM and kcat values of isolated CHMO, but a favorable KI for cyclohexanone (5.3-fold higher). The unfavorable KS and kcat values are related to mass transfer- and possibly heterogeneity issues and deserve further investigation and engineering, in order to exploit the high potential of biofilms regarding process stability. Suspended cells showed an only 1.8-fold higher KS, but 1.3- and 4.2-fold higher kcat and KI values than isolated CHMO. This together with the efficient NADPH regeneration via glucose metabolism makes this format highly promising from a kinetics perspective.
Catalytic efficiency and thermostability are the two most important characteristics of enzymes. However, it is always tough to improve both catalytic efficiency and thermostability of enzymes simultaneously. In the present study, a computational strategy with double-screening steps was proposed to simultaneously improve both catalysis efficiency and thermostability of enzymes; and a fungal α-L-rhamnosidase was used to validate the strategy. As the result, by molecular docking and sequence alignment analysis within the binding pocket, seven mutant candidates were predicted with better catalytic efficiency. By energy variety analysis, three among the seven mutant candidates were predict with better thermostability. The expression and characterization results showed the mutant D525N had significant improvements in both enzyme activity and thermostability. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the mutations located within the 5 Å range of the catalytic domain, which could improve RMSD, electrostatic, Van der Waal interaction and polar salvation values, and formed water bridge between the substrate and the enzyme. The study indicated that the computational strategy based on the binding energy, conservation degree and mutation energy analyses was effective to develop enzymes with better catalysis and thermostability, providing practical approach for developing industrial enzymes.
The Vero cell line is the most used continuous cell line in viral vaccine manufacturing. This adherent cell culture platform requires the use of surfaces to support cell growth, typically roller bottles or microcarriers. We have recently compared the production of rVSV-ZEBOV on Vero cells between microcarrier and fixed-bed bioreactors. However, suspension cultures are considered superior with regards to process scalability. Therefore, we further explore the Vero suspension system for rVSV-vectored vaccine production. Previously, this suspension cell line was only able to be cultivated in a proprietary medium. Here, we expand the adaptation and bioreactor cultivation to a serum-free commercial medium. Following small scale optimization and screening studies, we demonstrate bioreactor productions of highly relevant vaccines and vaccine candidates against Ebola virus disease, HIV and COVID-19 in the Vero suspension system. rVSV-ZEBOV, rVSV-HIV and rVSVInd-msp-SF-Gtc can replicate to high titers in the bioreactor, reaching 3.87 × 107 TCID50/mL, 2.12 × 107 TCID50/mL and 3.59 × 109 TCID50/mL, respectively. Further, we compare cell specific productivities, and the quality of the produced viruses by determining the ratio of total viral particles to infectious viral particles
The biopharmaceutical industry is transitioning from currently deployed batch-mode bioprocessing to a highly efficient and agile next generation bioprocessing with the adaptation of continuous bioprocessing, which reduces the capital investment and operational costs. Continuous bioprocessing, aligned with FDA’s quality-by-design (QbD) platform, is designed to develop robust processes to deliver safe and effective drugs. With the deployment of knowledge based operations, product quality can be built into the process to achieve desired critical quality attributes (CQAs) with reduced variability. To facilitate next generation continuous bio-processing, it is essential to embrace a fundamental shift-in-paradigm from “quality-by-testing” to “quality-by-design”, which requires the deployment of process analytical technologies (PAT). With the adaptation of PAT, a systematic approach of process and product understanding and timely process control are feasible. Deployment of PAT tools for real-time monitoring of CQAs and feedback control is critical for continuous bioprocessing. Given the current deficiency in PAT tools to support continuous bioprocessing, we have integrated Agilent 2D-LC with a post-flow-splitter in conjunction with the SegFlow automated sampler to the bioreactors. With this integrated system, we have established a platform for online measurements of titer and CQAs of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) as well as amino acid concentrations of bioreactor cell culture.
Synthetic microbial communities have the potential to enable new platforms for bioproduction of biofuels and biopharmaceuticals. However, using engineered communities is often assumed to be difficult because of anticipated challenges in establishing and controlling community composition. Cross-feeding between microbial auxotrophs has the potential to facilitate co-culture growth and stability through a mutualistic ecological interaction. We assessed cross-feeding between 13 Escherichia coli amino acid auxotrophs paired with a leucine auxotroph of Bacillus megaterium. We developed a minimal media capable of supporting the growth of both bacteria and used the media to study co-culture growth of the 13 interspecies pairs of auxotrophs in batch and continuous culture, and on semi-solid media. In batch culture, eight of thirteen pairs of auxotrophs were observed to grow in co-culture. We developed a new metric to quantify the impact of cross-feeding on co-culture growth. Six pairs also showed long-term stability in continuous culture, where co-culture growth at different dilution rates highlighted differences in cross-feeding amongst the pairs. Finally, we found that cross-feeding-dependent growth on semi-solid media is highly stringent and enables identification of the most efficient pairs. These results demonstrate that cross-feeding is a viable approach for controlling community composition within diverse synthetic communities.
Cell viability evaluation is significantly meaningful for cellular assays. Some cells with weak viability are easily killed in the detection of anti-cancer drugs, while others with strong viability survive and proliferate, ultimately leading to the treatment failure or the inaccuracy of biological assays. Accurately evaluating cell viability heterogeneity still remains difficult. This paper proposed a multi-physical property information fusion method for evaluating cell viability heterogeneity based on multiple linear regression (MLR) on a single-channel integrated microfluidic chip. In this method, adhesion strengths τN, that are defined as the magnitude of shear stress needed to detach (100-N) % of cell population, were extracted as the independent variables of MLR model by calculating the linear fitting of the impedance-response curves for shear stress (cell detachment assay). Besides, by calculating the non-linear fitting of the drug dose-response curves for cancer cells (IC50 assay), the half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) was extracted as the dependent variables of MLR model. The results show that the mean relative error of our fusion method reduces by 17.87% and 59.66% compared with the single-parameter method and the cell counting method. Moreover, through the theoretical analysis of the drug resistance heterogeneity model, it proved that there is a qualitative relationship between the cell adhesion strength and cell viability heterogeneity, which provides a theoretical basis for our fusion method.
Disulfide bond reduction has been a challenging issue in antibody manufacturing, as it leads to reduced product purity, failed product specifications and more importantly, impacting drug safety and efficacy. Scientists across industry have been examining the root causes and developing mitigation strategies to address the challenge. In recent years, with the development of high-titer mammalian cell culture processes to meet the rapidly growing demand for antibody biopharmaceuticals, disulfide bond reduction has been observed more frequently. Thus, it is necessary to continue evolving the disulfide reduction mitigation strategy and development of novel approaches to achieve high product quality. Additionally, in recent years as more complex molecules emerge such as bispecific and trispecific antibodies, the molecular heterogeneity due to incomplete formation of the interchain disulfide bonds becomes a more imperative issue. Given the disulfide reduction challenges that our industry are facing, in this review, we provide a comprehensive contemporary scientific insight into the root cause analysis of disulfide reduction during process development of antibody therapeutics, mitigation strategies and recovery based on our expertise in commercial and clinical manufacturing of biologics. First, this paper intended to highlight different aspects of the root cause for disulfide reduction. Secondly, to provide a broader understanding of the disulfide bond reduction in downstream process, this paper discussed disulfide bond reduction impact to product stability and process performance, analytical methods for detection and characterization, process control strategies and their manufacturing implementation. In addition, brief perspectives on development of future mitigation strategies will also be reviewed, including platform alignment, mitigation strategy application for bi- and tri-specific antibodies and using machine learning to identify molecule susceptibility of disulfide bond reduction. The data in this review are originated from both the published papers and our internal development work.