Special Edition: The Future of Continuous BioProcessing

Erbi Biosystems’ platform is designed to support continuous processing, and startup flags its potential to transform CAR-T and other autologous therapies

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Blackholy
© GettyImages/Blackholy

Related tags CAR-T Continuous processing Autologous bioreactor Gene therapy

Erbi Biosystems recently raised US$3.8m in a round led by Jaguar Biotech; the funds will allow the company to expand its platform of microfluidic bioprocess and bioreactor equipment, which is said to enable ultra-high cell density and continuous processing.

The microfluidic bioprocess instrumentation company, with its HQ located near Boston, Massachusetts, is focused on supporting therapeutic drug manufacturers with tools to accelerate the development of their processes and therapies. Its microfluidic sensing technology and biological liquid handling capabilities were initially developed by the founders while at MIT.

Erbi recently launched its first product, a microfluidic automated system - the Breez bioreactor - designed to deliver concentrated cell density performance for the expansion of intensified fed batch and continuous processing.

Continuous processing

Kathie Schneider, director of product management, Erbi Biosystems, told BioPharma-Reporter how this microfluidic bioprocess and the bioreactor equipment enables continuous processing:

“The Erbi Breez system is the only microscale device that can run true continuous upstream processes that engineers typically perform at a large scale. It is also the only fully instrumented system that can scale down a bioreactor to microscale equivalent to standard lab 1-3L bioreactors.”

The Breez system is able to accomplish this by operating with a continuous flow of nutrients and offers controls matching performance of a stirred tank bioreactor, in only a 2mL working volume, she explained.

This enables customers to run high cell density intensified processes at a very small scale, and has been proven to run closed loop, steady state processes at up to 250M cells/mL,”​ said Schneider.

In terms of the advantages continuous processing confers on biopharma companies compared to batch production, she said that continuous and intensified processes allow companies to increase throughput and flexibility of facility operation.

“Therefore they can save time and increase efficiencies through the use of single use consumables, increased experiment flexibility, and increased capability per footprint because smaller volume systems at 500-2000L can be used in manufacturing compared to the traditional 10-20,000L bioreactors - and it means R&D scale can match manufacturing scale.”

Transforming autologous therapies 

Asked whether Erbi Biosystem’s platform has the potential to transform CAR-T and other autologous therapies, in addition to traditional drugs and biologics, the head of product management said:

“One of the challenges in cell and gene therapies is variable and limited starting materials. Due to Erbi’s Breez size and capability, it can more than effectively work with small volumes for discovery and process development with potential into manufacturing. 

“Our system can generate valuable and industrially relevant data, coupled with perfusion and online PAT capability, therefore critical knowledge generating runs is possible with a small amount starting material. We have been able to demonstrate T cell growth to nearly 100M cells/mL and a high level of transduction efficiency.”

The company recently shipped three complete systems to a global biopharma company who will use it to improve their media development capabilities, based on Erbi's ability to provide discreet system control in a very small footprint, said Schneider, who did not disclose the name of the company in receipt of that technology.

She said Erbi continues to seek additional collaborators to help it continue to advance its processes and research as well as update its platform to meet the needs of the industry.

Investor, Jaguar Biotech, said it sees the company's microfluidic platform as the future of bioprocessing.  “Erbi’s innovative and fully automated microfluidic cassette requires little wet ware time for scientists, thus saving time and accelerating process development."

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