Biomass and cell-specific metabolic rates usually change dynamically over time, making the “feed according to need” strategy difficult to realize in a commercial fed-batch process. We here demonstrate a novel feeding strategy which is designed to hold a particular metabolic state in a fed-batch process by adaptive feeding in real time. The feed rate is calculated with a transferable biomass model based on capacitance, which changes the nutrient flow stoichiometrically in real time. A limited glucose environment was used to confine the cell in a particular metabolic state. In order to cope with uncertainty, two strategies were tested to change the adaptive feed rate and prevent starvation while in limitation: (i) inline pH and online glucose concentration measurement or (ii) inline pH alone, which was shown to be sufficient for the problem statement. In this contribution, we achieved metabolic control
within a defined target range. The direct benefit was two-fold: the lactic acid profile was improved and pH could be kept stable. Multivariate Data Analysis (MVDA) has shown that pH influenced lactic acid production or consumption in historical data sets. We demonstrate that a low pH (around 6.8) is not required for our strategy, as glucose availability is already limiting the flux. On the contrary, we boosted glycolytic flux in glucose limitation by setting the pH to 7.4. This new approach led to a yield of lactic acid/glucose (Y L/G) around zero for the whole process time and high titers in our labs. We hypothesize that a higher carbon flux, resulting from a higher pH, may lead to more cells which produce more product. The relevance of this work aims at feeding mammalian cell cultures safely in limitation with a desired metabolic flux range. This resulted in extremely stable, low glucose levels, very robust pH profiles without acid/base interventions and a metabolic state in which lactic acid was consumed instead of being produced from day 1. With this contribution, we wish to extend the basic repertoire of available process control strategies, which will open up new avenues in automation technology and radically improve process robustness in both process development and manufacturing.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.