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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T005297/1
Title: Integrating living analytics into biomanufacturing processes
Principal Investigator: Polizzi, Professor KM
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 27 August 2019 Ends: 26 August 2021 Value (£): 228,012
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Engineering Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Cells are increasingly being used to manufacture a wide variety medicines, renewable plastics, chemicals, and other consumer products. Understanding the behaviour of cells during the manufacturing process is necessary to optimise production and to make sure that product yield and quality are high. Currently, this is done by measuring a few factors using established technologies based on chemistry. However, living systems have naturally have the ability to sense their environment and respond to changes accordingly. These mechanisms have better sensitivity and specificity than the chemical methods currently used. In the past few years, scientists have begun to harness these natural systems to develop analytical technology called biosensors. Biosensors can be used to detect the presence or absence of a molecule of interest in the environment. They also can be used to estimate the concentration of a molecule of interest (analyte). It is the latter type of biosensor that is interesting for biological manufacturing processes because it allows the accurate measurement of concentrations of key factors that are important for maximising the yield and productivity of cell-based manufacturing systems.

The aim of this proposal is to develop a framework for using living biosensors in biomanufacturing processes. The focus in on identifying the best way to grow the biosensor and the producing cell together in such away that both types of cells survive and function correctly. For this, we will try a number of different physical separation methods including membrane separation, trapping the biosensor in a polymer, or trapping the biosensor in a bubble of lipid. We will also try to genetically modify the biosensor cell to cause it to stick to the wall of the culture vessel or to bud off non-living particles that can still behave as biosensors, but can no longer grow.

Each of these strategies will be tested using a biosensor we have already developed to measure the concentration of an analyte coming from mammalian cells that are also producing a protein drug. We want to find conditions where the biosensor does not overgrow the mammalian cell, but still can sense and respond to changes in analyte concentration. Once the basic principle of a living analytic has been demonstrated, we hope that this will change the way that measurements of cellular behaviour are done in the future and lead to better understanding of cells during the manufacturing process. Hopefully one day this will lead to higher yields of products from biological manufacturing systems, which ultimately will decrease the costs to consumers.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk