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What is “Bioprocessing”?

A quick introduction to Bioprocessing.

So you want to know what is all the fuss about Bioprocessing:

1. Some substances and products are quite hard or impossible to produce chemically.

2. Many people don’t like that their food, drugs and other things are made chemically,

Well luckily, there is a way to kill two birds with one stone. The answer lies in the field of bioprocessing. A bioprocess is a specific process, in which you use whole cells or their organelles to produce some desired product. Since many substances we use for medicine or food were originally found produced by other organisms in nature, why not let them do that for us as well?

They are the ones who came up with the “production lines” so they are the ones who do it best. The easiest way for us to get these substances without (too much) artificial interference is to find a way to make the organisms and cells do what we want them to do.

Here come Bioreactors

Starting of we needed some kind of a container to keep the producers in. Enter bioreactors.

Traditionally a cylindrical bowl with enough space to contain the cells and a sophisticated way to imitate the natural conditions for the cells to produce our product. Just like in nature, except it’s on somebody’s desk in a lab. Whilst in nature the environmental conditions change unpredictably, Bioprocessing gives us control of the temperature, nutrient ratio and availability, moisture, amount of oxygen etc. All-in-all it’s a win-win situation.

Twin parallel bioreactor by Bionet.
A twin parallel bioreactor from the F1 series, by Bionet.

This way of cultivating cells or organisms enables you to keep the production consistent (in theory, at least) which gives us the opportunity to produce a bigger amount of desired substances. Bellow you can find some industries, which use the bioprocessing to make products:

  • cosmetics
  • fuel
  • pharmaceuticals
  • chemicals
  • nutraceuticals
  • polymers
  • paper
  • food
  • animal feed

Upstream and downstream. Equally important, fundamentally different.

The whole process, from start to finish, is usually divided in two parts; upstream and downstream bioprocessing. Pharsol provides equipment for both.

Upstream bioprocesses include:

  • inoculum development,
  • media development,
  • improvement of inoculum by genetic engineering,
  • optimization of growth kinetics
Bacteria with flagella, the powerful worker.
Bacteria with flagella. This efficient worker can produce mass of different products through bioprocessing if treated right.

Essentially, upstream bioprocessing is the part of a bioprocess where we inoculate, grow and multiply our cell culture, up to the point where we can harvest our product.

Downstream bioprocessing is what comes after the harvest. The goal is to get the desired substance separated from the cells and purify it. Roughly, the downstream process can be divided into the following (for specific processes this may vary):

  • separation of biomass
  • cell disruption
  • concentration of broth
  • initial purification of metabolites
  • de-watering
  • polishing of metabolites

When you complete all of these steps, the produced substance is market-ready and you can ship it out to customers.

If you are engaged or want to start your way in Bioprocessing, let us know. Our skilled team can help you with advices in work techniques and our equipment is ready for any challenges you meet in the downstream or upstream of the process.

See you in our next blog where we will cover Cryopreservation and introduce the CryoHolder – our tool for improving one very important aspect of Cryopreservation.

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