Cells — a great chain of being
Cells have been evolving through an uninterrupted cycle of survival and selection since the biosphere came into existence on the earth in its primordial stage approximately four billion years ago.
In other words, the cells that make up our bodies are the outcome of a global-scale screening that has been conducted for approximately four billion years.
The cells have been meticulously created through eternal trial and error have a precise system and multiple functions that are difficult for humans to replicate.
A world made possible by cells
Cell therapy is a modality that uses the expected therapeutic effects of cells themselves and is classified into two categories: regenerative medicine for tissue regeneration through the engraftment of transplanted products or the stimulation of cytokine production, and cell therapy for disease treatment.
Regenerative medicine will be able to change medicine qualitatively from symptomatic therapy to definitive care. Cellular therapy, especially in cancer treatment, is expected to be highly effective with a novel mechanism of action.
Drug discovery support
The use of cells in the development of pharmaceutical products is expected to bring an efficient process and a high success rate to drug discovery. For example, our iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes will provide the following two advantages.
Firstly, by using iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes instead of whole animals for cardiotoxicity evaluation, animal sacrifice will be reduced or eliminated. Also, the evaluation can be conducted at a lower cost and completed in a shorter time period than when using whole animals.
Secondly, to avoid the problems that come with using animals, such as difficulty in extrapolating to humans, the use of human cells allows evaluation at the non-clinical phase to be conducted under similar conditions to clinical studies. As a result, it will prevent the dropout of products to be developed due to species difference issues in the clinical phase, and we can save development costs that were not originally necessary.
The term biopharmaceuticals broadly refers to all products produced with the use of biotechnology, however, it specifically refers to CHO cells, hybridomas and genetical recombinant proteins such as antibody drugs produced in E. coli.
They became widely available in the 1980s to 1990s, and are now main products in major pharmaceutical companies.
Cultured foods are relatively new cell-based products that have been known about since 2010.
There are many concerns about the current livestock industry, including animal welfare, the global environment such as the massive consumption for feeding and water needed for raising livestock, the labor environment for people engaged in the industry, and food safety such as risks of bacterial contamination with E. coli and Salmonella at slaughterhouses.
One of the solutions for these concerns that is currently attracting attention is cultured meat such as beef and chicken, and cultured seafood such as fish and shrimp . Cultured foods are being developed by hundreds of companies worldwide in a booming industry.
Culture medium — food that fulfills cells' dreams
“The dream of every cell is to become two cells.” François Jacob
Thanks to successive molecular biologists and geneticists, the mechanism of cell proliferation as a phenomenon has been revealed in great detail. Although the question of “why does every cell want to proliferate?” is a difficult question to answer, a single cell is always hungry and looking for food to divide and proliferate. Cutlure medium is food for cells in the in vitro culture environment.
Cutlure medium contain a variety of proteins as bioactive substances circulating in the body, as well as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that we as living organisms take from our meals. Proteins are added to most culture medium because they play an important role in cell growth. However, many proteins are recombinants derived from animals or E.coli, and thus much more expensive than other medium components.
Current issues in cell culture
Reducing the cost of culture medium is important for the spread of cell-based products
There are many cell-based products, but first we focus on cell therapy. When talking about the issues of cell therapy products, manufacturing costs arise as the most serious and common issue.
Among these costs, the cost of culture medium that is essential for cell culture, particularly expensive medium components such as cytokines, increases as the manufacturing scale expands: sometimes it can account for half of the whole manufacturing cost. In particular, the medium cost for allogeneic products (derived from donated cells rather than patient's own cells), which are manufactured in a large amount for a single lot, is likely to account for a relatively large portion of the whole manufacturing cost. This is because the amount of cells eaten (that is, the amount of media) cannot be reduced by any means, even though part of the manufacturing process can be improved (e.g., mechanization).
The Essence of cell culture
The elements involved in cell culture are not only media, but also culture substrates that cells come in contact with, manual procedures for handling cells, and use of machinery that mimics the manual procedures or enables a culture scale and system that cannot be implemented by manual procedures (mechanization of manufacturing process).
Changing one of these elements may have an impact on the other elements. Therefore, we think that understanding multiple techniques and factors and solving problems from a wide perspective are necessary for improving the cell culture process.
Solving issues in cell culture
Improvement of the cell culture process with a bird's eye view of the entire process
Myoridge, in all fields of not only culture medium but also culture plates, operating methods and equipment, has provided services using our cell culture know-how and conducted joint research with companies in various industries, such as chemical manufacturers and machine equipment manufacturers.
With this experience, we can propose an overview of the whole culture process for companies developing cell products.
Timing and effectiveness of reducing manufacturing costs
We believe that it is important to design products that can be manufactured at low cost from the early phases of research.
Replacing raw materials later on during development will result in extra time and money spent. A cell product that cannot be manufactured at low cost will cause problems with your company's profit structure, and will also impede wide usage due to healthcare financial burden.