One of the big challenges in developing cell-cultured meat products is the sheer amount of lab time needed to develop and optimize the manufacturing process so cells can be produced at scale.
This optimization process can involve working to develop the right growth media, finding the optimal growth conditions for the cells, or evaluating ways to genetically modify cell lines for better reproduction.
Traditionally much of this cell culture process development takes place in-house using a benchtop stirred tank bioreactor. But a startup called Culture Biosciences wants to take this process off the hands of cell-meat makers and allow them to utilize Culture Biosciences’ cloud-based bioreactor systems.
To demonstrate its capabilities, Culture Biosciences recently announced its high-throughput mammalian cell-culture capabilities have been proven out using CHO (Chinese Hamster Ovar) cell cultures.
The news, announced via a white paper written by the company’s senior bioprocess engineer Michael McSunas, shows the results of the work they had done using CHO cells in the company’s 250 ML cloud bioreactor. According to the white paper, Culture Biosciences was able to grow the cell lines from a customer and show reproduceability alongside internally developed cultures, as well as the ability to scale-down results from a customers 1 L glass bioreactors.
In short, Culture showed that results produced on-site are consistent, can be reproduced and scaled using their connected bioreactor technology, all important proof points for the company’s “bioreactor-as-a-service” model for cell-based meat development.
In such a model, the customer sends in vials with cells and growth media and allows Culture to thaw them and perform the studies in their 250 ML connected bioreactors. The data is then uploaded to the cloud for the customer to analyze.
If this idea of moving away from a completely “roll-your-own” infrastructure model and pushing some of development process to a service-based cloud model sounds like a concept from the Internet technology world, you’re right. That’s because Culture Biosciences CEO Will Patrick, who previously worked at Google, wondered why the world of biosciences didn’t have the same type of toolsets and accessible infrastructure such as the cloud industry with AWS or semiconductor industry with manufacturing fabs like those from TSMC.
Patrick eventually decided to build some of these tools himself in the form of his cloud-based bioreactor, and now he hopes they can act as a platform for mammalian cell development.
“Culture can help optimize the manufacturing process,” Patrick told via email. “This is important because optimizing the manufacturing process such that production is cheaper is one of the biggest R&D challenges that face cell-based meat companies.”