Development of a Novel Thermoplastic Tubing, FP-FLEX™, and Single-Use Freezing Bag for Working Cell Banks Enabling Closed-System Processing to Temperatures as Low as -196°C
© Clarke et al. 2015
Published: 14 December 2015
Working cell banks (WCB's) are commonly applied to initiate cell culture manufacturing campaigns for production of recombinant or therapeutic proteins. These campaigns typically begin with inoculation of cells previously cryopreserved in cryovials or ampoules. The baseline process proceeds from thaw of cell bank cryovials to scaling up through the seed train and inoculum train, followed by fed-batch production. While cryovials are typically used in the development of WCB's and initiation of manufacturing campaigns, they are not optimal for the growing demands of commercial production.
Cryovials are small on average (1-2mL/vial) and filling/removal is performed through an open screw cap. This process results in manual operations and the use of many culture vessels, resulting in the risk of contamination and potential campaign-to-campaign variability. Single-use (disposable) bags have been investigated more recently as a possible solution to minimize open handling steps and to shorten seed train scale-up. Bags offer larger storage volumes, but also come assembled with thermoplastic tubing for sterile connections. Wide-spread adoption of single-use bags for WCB applications has not been observed to this point as currently available tubing and connections can't hold up to the demands (break or can't be welded) when stored/transported at frozen or cryogenic (-196°C) temperatures.
To overcome these challenges, novel thermoplastic tubing was developed to balance both the flexibility and robustness demands of cryogenic storage and tube welding characteristics necessary for sterile closed-system processing. The new FP-FLEX™ tubing can be frozen and maintained at cryogenic temperatures, thawed and sterile welded to other thermoplastic tubing (C-Flex®).
Methods and Results
A selection of different thermoplastic elastomer combinations were investigated in an effort to discover the optimal blend of materials to support the flexibility and robustness requirements during frozen storage and sterile welding needs for processing. A novel manufacturing method was also designed to enable welding of the FP-FLEX™ tubing directly to the single-use bags. This was critical to support a completely unitized, closed design. Studies were then carried out to determine both durability and functional utility of the FP-FLEX™ tubing for frozen storage and processing applications.
FP-FLEX Integrity Testing.
Post Freeze/Thaw Welding FP-FLEX™ to C-Flex® Testing
Pressure leak test (1psi)
Welded junction flow rate ≥500mL/minute
Freeze/thaw FP-FLEX™ welded to C-Flex®
Ave = 12.85 lbf
Finally, post freeze/thaw weld strength and integrity testing was performed to evaluate sterile welding capabilities of FP-FLEX™ tubing post-thaw (Table 1). Tubing was capable of welding directly to C-Flex® following freezing using standard sterile welders with an average weld strength of 12.85 lbf. Flow rates of 0.5L/min were tested and achieved successfully.
Freezing/Storage/transport to as low as -196°C
Weldable to C-Flex® post freeze/thaw
Compatible with standard tube welding and sealing devices
Closed-system aseptic transfer via tube-to-tube connection
The FP-FLEX™ tubing and Freeze-Pak™ bag represent a closed-system solution enabling frozen storage, sterile connection and reduced scale-up time for therapeutic production.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.