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Large Capacity Centrifuge Systems: Meeting the Cell Culture Separation Needs of the Bioprocessing Industry

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Separating cell cultures by centrifugation is a key step in most bioprocessing and drug discovery workflows. However, for facilities with heavy workloads, the maximum capacity of standard laboratory centrifuges can be a major bottleneck. To support the efficient and reproducible centrifugation of large volume samples, laboratories therefore need robust and reliable centrifuge solutions that will optimize productivity without compromising sample integrity.

Large capacity centrifugation technologies are helping bioprocessing and drug discovery facilities overcome their throughput challenges by streamlining cell separation workflows and improving operational efficiency. This article looks at the benefits of using large capacity centrifuge systems, and the five factors to consider when choosing the right centrifuge system for bioprocessing workflows.

1. Flexible and efficient large capacity centrifuges can offer favorable return on investment

Centrifugation systems for cell separation workflows can be a significant investment for laboratories. Ensuring these solutions deliver an effective return on investment is therefore extremely important.

One of the best ways to maximize return on investment from laboratory equipment is to employ versatile solutions that add value to as many workflows and processes as possible. The latest large capacity centrifuges are now designed to support a variety of different applications, including the manufacture and processing of biologics, vaccines, biofuels, veterinary medicines, recombinant proteins, and raw materials. Underpinning this versatility, modern systems often do not need to be bolted down to the floor, therefore simplifying installation and offering the flexibility to relocate a system within a facility while still meeting the requirements of the latest global safety standards.

The newest large capacity centrifuge systems also make use of improvements in construction materials to deliver reliable performance over extended lifetimes. Some systems incorporate rotors built using extremely resilient materials like carbon fiber that make them resistant to corrosion and fatigue, and ensure long-term operational reliability. Additional design features, such as advanced windshielded rotors, are also making modern systems more energy-efficient, further reducing operational costs.

2. Refrigerated centrifugation systems more effectively safeguard sensitive samples

In many bioprocessing and drug discovery workflows, samples must be processed at precise temperatures under carefully controlled conditions. These specific procedures, especially in a current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulated setting, must be followed consistently, no matter who runs the test or in which laboratory the workflow is being performed.

The built-in cooling systems in the latest refrigerated centrifuges enable the use of pre-set temperatures, helping to standardize operating conditions across any workflow and guarding against any drastic fluctuations in ambient temperature and operator variability. Additionally, as refrigerated centrifuge systems are tightly sealed to prevent heat loss, they can also operate at higher speeds, allowing users the flexibility they need to perform advanced cell separation steps.

3. Centrifuge systems with intuitive interfaces can boost workflow efficiency

Centrifuge systems that incorporate features to enhance ease-of-use can help to accelerate workflows by streamlining day-to-day operation. Improvements in the usability of the control interfaces have resulted in the development of features such as durable, “glove-friendly”, interactive touchscreens for the quick and easy setting and initiating of run parameters. In addition, having a larger, brighter display would further increase productivity by making the centrifuge’s present run status and conditions visible from across the laboratory. Some modern systems also encourage efficiency by allowing operators to program and recall frequently-used run conditions or parameters, thereby accelerating workflows in eliminating the need to enter run parameters every time.

Workflows can also be shortened and made more efficient using ergonomically designed equipment. The automated door opening mechanisms offered by some large capacity centrifuge systems allow operators to load and unload instruments faster and more easily, hence improving turnaround times and boosting laboratory efficiency. Modern systems that display error messages and diagnostic data also enable efficient troubleshooting as issues can be dealt with as soon as they arise. Furthermore, some equipment vendors provide extensive support resources – such as tutorial videos and how-to guides – to help users get the most from their systems.

4. Remote monitoring of large capacity centrifugation supports real-time run control

Bioprocessing workflows can be complex and fast-paced, with researchers and technicians balancing multiple workloads and tasks. Regularly returning to the bench to check on the status of centrifugation runs can take a significant amount of time out of busy laboratory schedules.

Modern large capacity centrifuge systems can now be monitored remotely using powerful run-control applications, boosting laboratory efficiency. These applications securely connect users and large capacity centrifugation systems in real-time, allowing operators to remotely control and monitor the status of their runs using a mobile or tablet device. These innovative solutions enable the status of multiple centrifuges to be determined at-a-glance, helping operators to diagnose and overcome potential issues faster.

5. Large capacity centrifugation systems can make achieving compliance easier

In the regulatory-driven environment, laboratory equipment and workflows must meet GMP and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) requirements, and this extends to the way in which data is collected and managed too. The latest centrifuge systems incorporate features designed to make working to GMP and GLP standards as easy as possible.

Modern large capacity centrifuge systems can support on-board run logging, giving authorized individuals comprehensive oversight of all user interactions with the equipment, and helping laboratory managers more easily identify unusual or non-compliant behavior. Some centrifuges also include USB or Ethernet connections, allowing data to be easily downloaded or integrated into laboratory information management systems for rapid data analysis. Systems that incorporate password protection measures can also better ensure the integrity of runs programmed in the centrifuge, reducing user error and resulting in more consistent processes.

Overcoming bioprocessing workflow bottlenecks with large capacity centrifuge systems

Given the wide range of large capacity centrifuge options that are available, choosing the right cell separation solution to support high-throughput bioprocessing workflows can be overwhelming. By considering the factors highlighted here, facilities can implement flexible and efficient systems by optimizing their separation steps within the workflows without compromising on safety or compliance.