In order to increase process efficiency, many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have introduced disposable bag technology over the last 10 years. Because this technology also greatly reduces the risk of cross-contamination, disposable bags are preferred in applications in which an absolute or improved process safety is a necessity, namely the production of functional tissue for implantation (tissue engineering), the production of human cells for the treatment of cancer and immune system diseases (cellular therapy), the production of viruses for gene therapies, the production of therapeutic proteins, and veterinary as well as human vaccines.
Bioreactors with a pre-sterile cultivation bag made of plastic material are currently used in both development and manufacturing processes primarily operating with animal and human cells at small- and middle-volume scale. Because of their scalability, hydrodynamic expertise and the convincing results of oxygen transport efficiency studies, wave-mixed bioreactors are the most used, together with stirred bag bioreactors and static bags, which have the longest tradition.
Starting with a general overview of disposable bag bioreactors and their main applications, this chapter summarizes the working principles and engineering aspects of bag bioreactors suitable for cell expansion, formation of functional tissue and production of therapeutic agents. Furthermore, results from selected cultivation studies are presented and discussed.