, Volume 18, Issue 1-2, pp 51-56

Microcarrier technology, present status and perspective

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Abstract

Only a decade after Van Wezel introduced the first product made in microcarrier cultures on industrial scale at economically acceptable costs, namely Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), interest was taken in this revolutionary type of cell growth system. The basic idea was to develop a culture system with equal potentials for control of environmental culture conditions and scaling up as the systems used in industrial microbiology. Although initially only positively-charged beads were used it soon became clear that negatively-charged or amphoteric materials such as proteins or amino acids polymerized to the surface were equally useful. Eventually numerous different types of microcarrier were developed. The second generation of microcarriers consisted of macroporous beads providing increased surface area for cell attachment and growth by external and interior space. Such microcarriers offer great potential for high cell densities and enhanced productivity for certain production systems, especially recombinant CHO-cells. These carriers, which not only provide possibilities for anchorage-dependent cells but also for cells growing suspension, can be used in homogeneous bioreactors as well as in fluidized or fixed-bed systems. Despite considerable in vestments and research on the development and improvement of microcarriers one question is still open: is microcarrier technology still in its infancy or is it full-grown and is the basic idea relized? In this paper a general overview will be given of the present state of microcarrier technology and also of its perspectives.