Interview with Jorge Escobar, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Eppendorf
Q: What are exosomes? What role do they play as potential substitutes for cell therapy?
Dr. Escobar: Exosomes, often referred to as a type of cell-free therapy, are small extracellular vesicles (EVs) ranging in size between 30 and 150 nm that are released by cells and contain a variety of bioactive molecules (such as proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and metabolites). The composition of exosomes can vary depending on various factors, including cell type, physiological state of the cell, and environmental influences (such as cell stress and activation, pathological conditions, and therapeutic interventions). Although exosomes were initially considered cell waste products, subsequent research revealed that exosomes play several important roles in intercellular communication and several physiological and pathological processes such as tissue regeneration, immune regulation, and intercellular communication. In addition, they can be used as therapeutic agents by engineering or loading them with specific cargo (such as proteins, drugs, and nucleic acids), making them ideal for regenerative medicine and drug delivery applications. It is important to say that although exosomes have the potential to overcome the limitations associated with cell-based therapies, ongoing research should help to uncover their full therapeutic potential.
Q: How do bioreactors facilitate the large-scale production of exosomes?
Dr. Escobar: Bioreactors play a key role by offering a controlled environment under specific conditions (including pH, temperature, nutrient availability, and oxygen supply) where cells (mesenchymal stem cells among other cell types) expand under optimal conditions and produce a high yield of desired products such as exosomes. Media optimization is another area where the bioreactor can help to customize cell culture composition by precisely monitoring and adjusting components (such as glucose, amino acids, and essential factors) required for cells to efficiently produce exosomes. Also, to produce a large number of exosomes required for clinical trials and therapeutics purposes, bioreactors allow for scalability by providing a larger yield per volume compared to traditional cultivation methods such as flasks or rocking motion bioreactors. In terms of process monitoring and control, real-time monitoring is essential to optimize cell culture conditions and consistent exosome production. This is possible because bioreactors are equipped with sensors. The senors can track the cell fitness during the production process, and automated controlled systems can adjust various parameters (pH, temperature, or nutrient supply) based on monitored data. As you can see, by providing control over the scale-up process, it is possible to significantly improve large-scale exosome production.
Q: What does Eppendorf bring to the table for researchers and laboratory personnel for their cell culture needs concerning exosomes?
Dr. Escobar: The success of our customers is very important to Eppendorf. In this sense, our company provides solutions in upstream and downstream processes, supporting our customers in various aspects of exosome production and helping them to study and use these fascinating extracellular vesicles for various applications in research and medical fields. Eppendorf offers in-house-developed application notes that add significant value to our solutions, serving as key resources for our company’s customers, providing detailed protocols and best practices, and offering insights into experimental setups, troubleshooting tips, and data analysis methods, empowering our customers to optimize their workflows, save time, and achieve more reliable results.
Our core strength lies in bioreactor solutions for small and bench-scale processing. This is especially important for cell therapies that are developed in small volumes where precision is key. For well over a decade, we have also provided BioBLU single-use rigid-wall bioreactors, which are a game changer to the market, enabling our customers to grow high-quality cells in single-use solutions with the proven design of traditional stirred bioreactors. Our solutions cover the perfect volume range when we think of current cell and gene therapy applications.
PackGene is a CRO & CDMO technology company that specializes in packaging recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors. Since its establishment in 2014, PackGene has been a leader in the AAV vector CRO service field, providing tens of thousands of custom batches of AAV samples to customers in over 20 countries. PackGene offers a one-stop CMC solution for the early development, pre-clinical development, clinical trials, and drug approval of rAAV vector drugs for cell and gene therapy (CGT) companies that is fast, cost-effective, high-quality, and scalable. Additionally, the company provides compliant services for the GMP-scale production of AAVs and plasmids for pharmaceutical companies, utilizing five technology platforms, including the π-Alpha 293 cell AAV high-yield platform and the π-Omega plasmid high-yield platform. PackGene's mission is to make gene therapy affordable and accelerate the launch of innovative gene drugs. The company aims to simplify the challenging aspects of gene therapy development and industrialization processes and provide stable, efficient, and economical rAAV Fast Services to accelerate gene and cell therapy development efforts from discovery phase to commercialization.
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