Bioprocess engineering uses the capabilities of microorganisms to produce a large variety of biological products for medical, industrial and agricultural applications. Today, computer controlled bioreactors are used to aseptically produce large quantities of important biologicals such as amino acids, recombinant proteins, antibiotics or viral vaccines… Many of the existing pharmaceuticals as well as potential new drugs are produced in eukaryotic cells, which show poor productivity compared to conventional fermentation processes. To achieve the full potential of biotechnological production methods, highly developed cell culture technologies and sophisticated product purification trains have to be established. Furthermore, a detailed description of the complex mechanism underlying cell growth and product formation is indispensable. As a result, an enormous amount of data on different process levels is collected to newly design and optimize production of biologicals. Ongoing improvements in on- & off-line monitoring facilitate the analysis of cell metabolism, media consumption and product formation in bioreactors or give valuable information on product yield or purity levels in downstream processing. Furthermore, recent progress in high-throughput analysis of protein expression, protein function and posttranslational modification, i.e. glycosylation, will help to elucidate mechanisms of cellular behavior and offer tremendous opportunities for optimizing bioprocesses or developing new approaches for production of highly effective medicines.
Mathematical modeling plays a crucial role in analyzing and optimizing bioprocesses. Without such models it is practically impossible to quantitatively understand metabolic pathways and regulatory networks of animal cells, complex interactions between microorganisms and their environment in a bioreactor or to allow for a rational design of downstream processing steps to maximize yield and purity of the final product.
The Bioprocess Engineering group has five teams that collaborate closely with their colleagues of the other research groups of the MPI and the Bioprocess Engineering group at the Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg.