For maintenance of high cell density in continuous perfusion processes not only feeding with substrates but also removal of inhibitors and toxic waste products are of special interest. High perfusion rates cause large volumes of product containing medium which have to be processed in product isolation. In order to minimize these volumes concentrated feed solutions of optimized medium are used. On the other hand, such media may cause high concentrations of toxic or inhibitory metabolites which can negatively influence cell growth and product formation. Especially, if the spent medium (or special parts of it) is used again after product isolation, the removal or even better the control of inhibitor production is of highest importance. We have developed a continuous fermentation concept and system (continuous medium cycle bioreactor, (MCB) in which both limitation and inhibition effects can be generated to identify special substances as limiting or inhibitory components. With the results from those experiments it was possible to lower the total perfusion rate during serum-free perfusion cultures of hybridoma cells and to obtain an optimal substrate utilization. The advantages for decreasing the production costs (for media, special supplements and product isolation) are obvious. The other aim of this study was to identify secreted metabolic waste products as inhibitor or toxic metabolite.
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