In June, AmpliPhi Biosciences said Slovenian regulators’ approval of its production plant in Ljubliana was evidence of “renewed interest in exploring bacteriophage-based therapies to treat infection.”
This view is shared by Robbie Thomas, vice president of business development for Dundee, Scotland-based bioreactor firm Cellexus.
Thomas called “2015 is the year of the phage” and told Biopharma-Reporter.com his firm is developing bioreactors which can be used for this small, but growing niche market.
“Most developers of disposable biomanufacturing systems focus on making bioreactors for the production of mammalian and animal cells that produce protein therapeutics where there is established demand” Thomas said.
“Bacteriophage producers tend to use glassware and or stainless steel systems” he continued, citing academic researchers as an example of a group normally committed to non-disposable production technologies.
“University grants often do not cover the cost of replacement bags, meaning stainless steel systems are often preferred to disposable systems despite the additional cleaning and preparation times."
But for the newer crop of phage-focused biotechs single-use techs are likely to be attractive according to Thomas who predicted that smaller companies would be particularly interested in systems that cut costs at the development stage.
“We are not trying to replace existing user technologies immediately, but aim to create a laboratory-scale companion system that allows researchers to experiment while taking advantage of the speed, cost and efficiency benefits of single-use technologies.”
The key to the system - called the Cellmaker - is Cellexus’ ‘air lift’ technology.
In contrast to other reactors that require shakers, rollers or other motion-based approaches, the air lift system aerates cell cultures using a low-density mix of gasses that bubble through the growth chamber.
Cellexus – which relocated to Scotland in March after securing £250,000 ($392,473) of equity funding from the Scottish Investment Bank – is also developing versions of its bioreactor technology for application in mammalian and animal cell-based biomanufacturing.