Irish institutes develop roaming sensor capsule that could improve production of biologics

The Process Analytical Technology Sensor Capsule (PATsule) monitors the production process of biologics

Dr Jonathan Bones (NIBRT) and Dr Karen Twomey (Tyndall) have been involved in the PATsule project

A moving sensor capsule capable of moving freely in a bioreactor during production has been developed which could 'radically improve' biologics production, according to the researchers at the two Irish institutes which invented it.

The Tyndall National Institute in Cork and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) in Dublin have developed the Process Analytical Technology Sensor Capsule (PATsule) which monitors the production process of biologics being developed to treat conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

The inventors say previous sensors used in the production of biologics have been fixed in one position and could only monitor material that directly passed their surface. Their PATsule sensor capsule will move around freely in the bioreactor during production, providing a stream of data to monitor factors that might affect product yield or quality.

Used specifically for the production of protein therapies, the PATsule has the potential to revolutionise bioprocess monitoring and control. More informed process development will improve the ability to manufacture therapeutic proteins, enhance their quality, increase their speed to market and benefit healthcare professionals and patients by reducing the cost of therapies, the inventors say.

The PATsule, a wireless mobile sensing device, will freely move within the bioreactor, continuously monitoring and analysing the production vessel environment

Dr Karen Twomey, Staff Researcher at Tyndall, said: 'Current process monitoring is performed using fixed sensor probes. The PATsule, a wireless mobile sensing device, will freely move within the bioreactor, continuously monitoring and analysing the production vessel environment. This information will help biopharmaceutical manufacturers to visualise and control their process, making it uniform. PATsule involves a multi-disciplinary approach of micro- and nano-sensor technology, miniaturised instrumentation, data analytics and wireless communications.'

Dr Jonathan Bones, NIBRT Principal Investigator, added: 'The PATsule represents a new concept in process monitoring as it enables the measurement of critical process parameters in both time and space, which was not previously possible. We foresee it becoming must-have technology within the industry for all those engaged in process development and commercial manufacturing.'

He added: 'We are delighted to be working with Tyndall on this exciting project. It blends a unique mix of Tyndall’s expertise in sensing devices and microelectronics with NIBRT’s excellence in biopharmaceutical manufacture.'

PATsule is a joint venture between Tyndall and NIBRT and is funded by Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund, which has committed €347,870 to the project.

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