Microfluidics in Industrial-Scale Boost Productivity

Microfluidics in Industrial-Scale Boost Productivity ...

In biomanufacturing, membrane-based filtration is widely used to harvest therapeutic proteins from their host cells. However, it is often plagued with fouling issues that require frequent filter replacement and contribute to poor product recovery because of the nonspecific binding to the membrane surface. An industrial-scale spiral inertial microfluidic device developed by MIT seems to be able to overcome these issues.

The scientists developed a fast, clog-free CHO cell clarification procedure at a macroscopic volume rate of 1 L min1, which suggests it might reach a 1,000-litre bioreactor. The device also has a high cell-clarification efficiency rating of approximately 99% (depending on the CHO cell density). Cells are then taken selectively.

We can reduce huge costs for membrane maintenance and also prevent the loss of the product, according to the first author. Hyungkook Jeon, PhD, believes the developed microfluidic cell retention device could replace the conventional membrane-based filtration method, increasing biomanufacturing efficiency.

While microfluidics technology has existed for over 20 years, we have begun to expand its unique process capability to large-volume applications only recently, according to Jeon. This is partly inspired by the development of inertial microfluidics, which allows one to obtain significantly higher output even at the single-chip level. In this effort, we are multixing to achieve fantastic industrial volume processing capabilities.

Because of the time- and energy-consuming fabrication process and channel deformation, industrial-scale deployments of inertial microfluidics fabricated in a soft elastomer (polydimethylsiloxane, or PDMS) have been difficult. However, the cost of designing a hard-plastic device has been too high. The researchers have developed a tool to transform them into deformation-free, mass-producible plastic equivalents.

This is the first attempt to introduce a microfluidic system to industry-level bioprocessing, and there are certain technical concerns we must consider or verify further, according to Jeon. The need to deal with sterilization of the plastic device, automate the fabrication of the multiplexed plastic spiral unit, and verify the long-term operation of the unit during actual biomanufacturing are examples.

The technology may be similar to those used in biopharmaceutical engineering, such as removing microplastics and microalgae, filtering yeast, and high-throughput blood fractionation for blood transfusion.

You may also like: