The subject of the innovation is an automated cell culturing and monitoring platform for dynamic cell-cultures, primarily for vaccine production in roller bottles. The idea is to provide an equipment (majority of vaccine production is done in such a way, which is a multi- billion Euro business) that precisely controls the rotation of the bottle so that it can be fitted to the existing needs of industrial production, moreover, it is capable of continuous monitoring of the growing cells. For this reason an automated, custom designed optics is equipped to the rolling rack over the rolling bottle, that is capable of precisely imaging a given area of the rolling bottle, and is able to record images in every ~20 minutes of the same area and compile a time-lapse movie presenting the dynamic changes of the cultured and later infected cells.
The equipment is automated to find the same area of interest and the same focal plane and to apply different algorithms that assess objectively the state of the cells inside of the roller bottle and the viral effect, to support the needs of the vaccine production. The equipment is placed inside of the incubator, the images are automatically made and saved on a server. A custom developed software is able to visualise the cell culture on the screen outside of the incubator (in the lab/office..), where the operator can control and make decisions without entering the restricted incubation area.
The objective assessment of the state of the cells is important to determine the timing of the viral infection of the cell culture whereas the algorithm monitoring the viral effect is important to determine the timing of the harvest. Both decisions are vital, as the timing of the infection will fundamentally affect cost, workload and the efficacy of vaccine production, whereas the timing of the harvest fundamentally affects the quantity of vaccine that can be produced from one charge.
Since there is visual information continuously from the system, the operator can every time check the status and safety of the production without opening the door of the incubator, can document the whole procedure and can perform the most important decisions as far as production is concerned. The concept is, that the information from such an equipment represents the status of a production charge. As a minimum of 1 – 0.5 % of the roller bottles are used in the normal routine to assess the state of a production batch it can be estimated that at least 1 – 0.5 % of the bottles in a batch will need to be monitored with such equipment. As a production batch consists of minimum 1000 roller bottles it means, a minimum of 10 such devices is needed in an incubator.
By storing time-lapse videos about each production batches vaccine producers can improve their quality assurance as well. The stored data may also serve R&D purposes to understand biological processes deeper and to improve the production processes.