The Shift to Digitization in Cell Culture Monitoring

Cell culture is a valuable tool with numerous applications. It allows us to study the normal physiology and biochemistry of cells, explore mechanisms underlying disease, test the effects of drug compounds, and manufacture biotherapeutics. The ability to continuously monitor cells in real-time ensures precious time and money is not spent conducting experiments on cells that aren’t viable. It can also help to optimize your cultural conditions and identify contamination.

With the exception of visual inspections for contamination and phenol red changes indicating pH shifts, the majority of monitoring and data collection takes place outside of the cell culture incubator. Culture vessels are taken to microscopes and plate readers and cell and media samples are manually collected for other offline assays.

The reader is connected to a computer for data acquisition and graphing. Biomass data is obtained through backscatter measurements in a highly parallelized and non-invasive manner from shake flasks and bioreactors. The pH and dissolved oxygen sensors are single-use, disposable, and sterilizable via autoclave, ethylene oxide, or gamma irradiation. They are also pre-calibrated, suitable for long-term cultures, and very affordable so that every researcher can have access to real-time data about their cells. These actionable data insights truly illuminate the black boxes of current cell culture systems.

High-quality real-time data is needed as input for closed-loop control so that critical process parameters and critical product attributes remain within target levels throughout the culture. For example, different cell types require different levels of dissolved oxygen for optimal cell health and phenotypic expression. Real-time dissolved oxygen data can be used to control levels within a pre-defined range through methods such as media oxygenation, perfusion, stirring, or shaking.

As biologic drugs, cell and gene therapy products, and personalized medicine come to the forefront of medicine, process control, reproducibility, cost reduction, time to market and high-quality products gain paramount importance as truly enabling technologies. SBI is poised to become a leading provider of these enabling technologies to our biopharma partners.

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