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Biotechnol Prog. 2010 May-Jun;26(3):872-80. doi: 10.1002/btpr.369.

pH measurement and a rational and practical pH control strategy for high throughput cell culture system.

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  • 1Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


The number of therapeutic proteins produced by cell culture in the pharmaceutical industry continues to increase. During the early stages of manufacturing process development, hundreds of clones and various cell culture conditions are evaluated to develop a robust process to identify and select cell lines with high productivity. It is highly desirable to establish a high throughput system to accelerate process development and reduce cost. Multiwell plates and shake flasks are widely used in the industry as the scale down model for large-scale bioreactors. However, one of the limitations of these two systems is the inability to measure and control pH in a high throughput manner. As pH is an important process parameter for cell culture, this could limit the applications of these scale down model vessels. An economical, rapid, and robust pH measurement method was developed at Eli Lilly and Company by employing SNARF-4F 5-(-and 6)-carboxylic acid. The method demonstrated the ability to measure the pH values of cell culture samples in a high throughput manner. Based upon the chemical equilibrium of CO(2), HCO(3)(-), and the buffer system, i.e., HEPES, we established a mathematical model to regulate pH in multiwell plates and shake flasks. The model calculates the required %CO(2) from the incubator and the amount of sodium bicarbonate to be added to adjust pH to a preset value. The model was validated by experimental data, and pH was accurately regulated by this method. The feasibility of studying the pH effect on cell culture in 96-well plates and shake flasks was also demonstrated in this study. This work shed light on mini-bioreactor scale down model construction and paved the way for cell culture process development to improve productivity or product quality using high throughput systems.

Copyright 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers

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