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Three kinds of bioreactors commonly used in laboratories

Data: 2020-12-04

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Three kinds of bioreactors commonly used in laboratories
Bioreactor refers to any manufacturing or engineering equipment that provides a biologically active environment. It uses the biological functions of enzymes or organisms to carry out biochemical reactions in vitro. It is a biological function simulator, such as fermentation tanks, fixed Enzyme or immobilized cell reactor, etc.

Whether animal cell culture technology can be industrialized and commercialized on a large scale depends on whether a suitable bioreactor can be designed. Because animal cells are very different from microbial cells, traditional microbial reactors are obviously not suitable for large-scale cultivation of animal cells. First, it must be able to provide sufficient oxygen for cell growth and cell product synthesis under low shear and good mixing conditions.

So what are the types of bioreactors commonly used in the laboratory? According to the material of the reactor, it can be divided into glass tank reactor, stainless steel reactor and disposable reactor.

(1) Glass tank bioreactor

Borosilicate glass bioreactor

At present, most of the reactors used for process development and research at home and abroad are mainly glass tanks. 

Glass tank bioreactors have the characteristics of flexible configuration, powerful functions, simple operation, easy upgrade and expansion, etc., and are used for research and development projects of animal cell culture and microbial fermentation. 

The best choice for animal cells, E. coli, yeast, fungi, insect cells and plant cell culture.


(2) Stainless steel bioreactor

Stainless Steel 316L bioreactor

So far, antibody drugs approved by the FDA have basically been produced in stainless steel reactors. Due to the low yield of early antibodies, the production scale is mostly around 10,000L. Stainless steel reactors usually involve CIP modules, SIP modules, storage modules, etc., so the pipeline connection is very complicated and requires higher operators. Once contamination occurs, the entire system needs to be checked and sterilized. At the same time, stainless steel reactors are also faced with high initial equipment investment and operating costs.

(3) Disposable bioreactor

In recent years, disposable reactors have rapidly occupied the domestic and foreign markets by virtue of their advantages such as non-cleaning, non-sterilization, and flexible operation. 

Compared with traditional stainless steel reactors, whether it is cell growth, antibody production, or antibody quality, the use of disposable reactors can achieve a high degree of similarity, while also significantly reducing production costs and shortening the production cycle.


With the rapid development of cell line construction technology and medium development technology, cell density and antibody production have been greatly increased, posing severe challenges to large-scale cell culture.

The rapid rise of disposable reactors has brought a huge impact to traditional stainless steel reactors. As the disposable reactor reduces a lot of CIP, SIP and related verification work, it significantly improves operational flexibility and reduces the risk of contamination. 

If the problems of leachable/precipitate and production scale can be solved well, it will be possible to replace the stainless steel reactor and become the mainstream reactor for antibody production in the future. 

In addition, since the main basis for reactor amplification is still based on the principle of empirical amplification, there are still certain controversies, such as the suitability of the tip velocity as the principle of amplification. These factors undoubtedly increase the difficulty and risks of the industrialization of antibody drugs in the future.


The above introduces the types of bioreactors commonly used in Paragon laboratories and their future development trends.