The new technology – for which Eppendorf was granted a US patent earlier this month – is composed of a container in which cells are cultured and a cap that seals the reaction vessel during production, which is a design common to most multi-use reactors.
The difference with the new design is that once assembled at one of Eppendorf's facilities prior to shipping, the bioreactor cannot be disassembled without destroying the cap as a result of a series of locking arms that hold it in place.
“The locking arms are situated inside the container, and the container is completely closed by the cap surface with the circumferential collar.
“As a consequence, releasing the locking arms, and thereby this opening of the disposable bioreactor, is only possible by way of destructing the cap.”
The idea is that making it impossible to remove the cap cuts the risk of contamination in comparison with other systems, including the Sartorius Superspinner D1000 with is cited in the patent document.
Eppendorf declined to comment when BioPharma-Reporter.com asked if the patent technology was used in any of its commercially available systems.
We also asked Sartorius how it felt about its technology being referenced in the patent document.
Astrid Stehl from Sartorius Stedim Biotech GmbH told BioPharma-Peroter.com that: “It is common practice for patent applicants to discuss drawbacks of prior art devices, such as our Superspinner, in patent documents in order to present a solution to a technical problem existing in the prior art up to the filing date of the patent. Companies, like in this case Eppendorf, can make such a comment.”
She added: "The Superspinner design or its construction features have never resulted in any contamination or have caused the culture vessels to accidentally open. The type of product packaging ensures that the customer knows whether it has been opened or tampered with in any way."