In 2014, Waltham, Massachusetts-based bioprocessing firm Repligen acquired the assets of Refine Technology yesterday for $20.5m (€15m), adding the cell retention Alternating Tangential Flow (ATF) system to its upstream bioprocessing product range.
The system is connected to a fermenter providing means to continuously remove waste products in the vessel, enabling cells to grow to a higher density fold than alternative methods in standard batch fermentation.
And according to Repligen’s results, the ATF product line had a record quarter with sales up over 30% year-on-year due to strong adoption of continuous manufacturing by industry.
CEO Tony Hunt told stakeholders the majority of ATF customers have been using the technology with perfusion – a cell culture bioreactor in which equivalent volumes of media are simultaneously added and removed from the reactor while retaining the cells.
However, Hunt said the vast majority of bioreactors are operating in a fed-batch mode (around 70%), with perfusion representing only 20 to 30% of the market. And so the firm is looking to make in-roads in the fed-batch space which typically would not use ATF technology.
“We're really the market leader in perfusion or continuous manufacturing in that segment. I think we're well penetrated,” he said.
“Where we're beginning to make some progress is within the fed-batch marketplace; there is this whole process called seed train where you go from a very small bioreactor to the production bioreactor over the course of, let's say, 10, 12 days.
“What we are doing there is using ATF technology and what's called the n-1 application. You're concentrating the cells in a smaller bioreactor and you are not giving that into the large production vessel and eliminating one of the steps in the process.”
In October 2016, Repligen launched a single-use version of the ATF system, which is aiding fed-batch customers to “immediately evaluate the technology without worrying about their capital expenditures,” Hunt added.
“I think that's really one of the benefits of what we have been able to do by launching the single-use portfolio.”
For the fourth quarter 2017, Repligen reported total sales of $42m, up 63% year-on-year, attributed to high performance of its direct filtration business, and supported by recent acquisitions.