By Nick Hutchinson
More than ever before, biopharmaceutical companies are able to establish their own in-house biomanufacturing capabilities. The adoption of single-use technology has reduced the need for expensive utilities systems and large manufacturing footprints. The inherent flexibility of this technology is allowing firms to connect steps in the production process with relative ease and without the need for fixed stainless steel pipework. Upfront capital costs have diminished and although operating costs remain, they are incurred only when the success of a drug candidate or licensed product warrants further production. Thus, single-use technologies provide a means to mitigate the risk of wasting large capital expenditures in the event a molecule is unsuccessful in the clinic or on the market.
Good engineering practices are key
Single-use technology is available for nearly every step in a biopharmaceutical manufacturing process below a certain scale of production. Biologics such as monoclonal antibodies and viral vaccines can be produced using processes in which the entire product, media and buffer flow-paths are disposable. However, companies attempting to install or expand new biomanufacturing capacity should be mindful that they should follow good engineering practices to maximize the probability of success. Despite the ease with which firms can install single-use capacity, relative to traditional stainless steel projects, this can nevertheless lead to an insufficient consideration of how firms should integrate single-use equipment with other steps in the process chain. The overlooking of proper integration can lead to incorrect equipment sizing, poor equipment design or an incomplete solution being developed. This can result in process failures, delays and the need to perform costly engineering rework.