Irish research hubs invent roaming reactor sensor

By Fiona BARRY contact

- Last updated on GMT

A scientist at the Tyndall Institute, Cork holds up a wireless sensor
A scientist at the Tyndall Institute, Cork holds up a wireless sensor
A moving, wireless sensor in bioreactors could “revolutionise” biologics production, say the two Irish institutes which invented the wireless device.

Ireland’s NIBRT (National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training) in Dublin and IT-focused Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork have developed “wireless smart sensor capsules to monitor the production process of advanced biological treatments​” which they call Process Analytical Technology Sensor Capsules (PATsules). The information they relay could be used in process development to improve the quality and yield of drugs and to keep down production times and cost.

Sensors are already used in production of biologics but typically are fixed in one position and an only monitor material that directly passed their surface. The inventors of PATsules say their capsules move around freely inside bioreactors during production, providing a stream of data to monitor factors that might affect product yield or quality.

Process development gains

Karen Twomey, staff researcher at Tyndall, commented, “Current process monitoring is performed using fixed sensor probes. The PATsule, a wireless mobile sensing device, will freely move within the bioreactor, continuously monitoring and analysing the production vessel environment.

This information will help biopharmaceutical manufacturers to visualise and control their process, making it uniform. PATsule involves a multi-disciplinary approach of micro- and nano-sensor technology, miniaturised instrumentation, data analytics and wireless communications​.”

NIBRT principal investigator Jonathan Bones added, “The PATsule represents a new concept in process monitoring as it enables the measurement of critical process parameters in both time and space, which was not previously possible. We foresee it becoming must-have technology within the industry for all those engaged in process development and commercial manufacturing​.”

The joint venture draws on NIBRT’s biomanufacturing expertise​ and Tyndall’s experience with sensors and microelectronics. Enterprise Ireland’s commercialisation fund has committed €347,870 ($395,000) to the project.

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