Project: Functional cell culture labware: Combining innovative surface coating technology and new in-line production process

BACKGROUND_x000D_The biotechnology industry, cell research institutes and especially stem cell researchers throughout Europe require novel high standard cell culture labware with additional functionalities. Today, cell culture in scientific labs is performed in sterile disposable labware. COly two types of cell lines are used, the cell lines which grow as suspension in their nutrition medium and cell lines which need to anchor onto the surface of the cell culture plastic labware, the so called adherently growing cell lines. To provide cells a “natural” environment, the culture flasks, dishes and plates are coated with proteins, obtained from connective tissues, namely collagen, fibronectin and others. The coating is done in the research laboratories by incubating a sterile protein solution in the desired culture dish until next day. This technique is not very reproducible since the concentration of the protein solution conitues to decrease as more the surfaces are coated with the same solution. As the coating method is labour and time consuming, labware manufacturers have introduced precoated labware to the end-users. However, as the manufacturers apply the same protein coating methods as end-users use today, they get the same end-results with the coatings, and the benefit to end-users are therefore of mere practical nature. The protein coating technology applied by labware manufacturers does in addition not allow the sterilization of the final coated products._x000D__x000D_APPROACH_x000D_To develop highly innovative labware with highly sophisticated technology, the complementary expertise of the three project Ps, two R&D performing SMEs (TPP Plastic Products AG, Switzerland (TPP) and InMold Biosystems A/S, Denmark (InMold)) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) is required:_x000D__x000D_InMold holds a patent of a coating technique which circumvents the above mentioned issue of poor reproducibility of the surface coating of cell culture dishes and flasks. This technique will be incorporated in the in-line production of the cell culture disposables at TPP, one of the leading manufacturers in sterile disposable cell culture labware. The in-line production has the advantage of the need of minute amounts of the coating solution which will be discarded after single use and enable a highly reproducible coating allowing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification. Sterility and shelf time are other beneficial effects of this new technique. The same procedure will also be applied in immuno-chemistry where coated dishes are used for specific ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and many diagnostic assay kits. Theses, “incubation method” surface treated plates for both cell culture and immuno-chemistry are currently on the market, proving the need of such products._x000D__x000D_TPP`s in-house facilities and knowledge of over 60 qualified staff ranging from injection molding, technical design, engineering to automation and production are essential to this project. With its expertise, TPP has the capacities to successfully address the key challenges involved in the development of the fully automated production process: First, to integrate the coated shims into the molds while COtaining the coating`s functionalities and, second, to ensure that this new labware complies with GMP. _x000D__x000D_Combined with ETHZ`s (Laboratory of Organic Chemistry) expertise in quality control with the ability to develop the needed specific test systems, the consortium will have the capacities to develop an automation process for the in-line production at the highest level of quality for continuous and consistent functional cell culture labware. Therefore, ETHZ will develop sophisticated tests with cells (e.g. fibroblasts, epithelial cells) to proof the successful coating of the dish. In addition, ETHZ will investigate new coatings for innovative applications. ETHZ will develop highly specific immuno-chemical methods to test the efficiency of the coating. The newly gained knowledge will be transferred to TPP and InMold._x000D__x000D_EXPECTED RESULTS_x000D_The expected results include a sophisticated coating technology integrated into the new labware (product line consisting of different cell culture products e.g. flasks, multiwell plates etc.) and new knowledge on how to design an in-line production that combines technical and biological techniques. The direct beneficiaries will be the two participating SMEs who expect a substantial company growth as a result of this project _x000D_(TPP: + 25% in employees; InMold: + 100% in employees), and ETHZ who will enrich their research competence by developing test systems using the latest technologies. More specifically, TPP aims to become the fifth most important manufacturer of tissue culture labware globally, and InMold to reach a major breakthrough in coated labware technology. The indirect beneficiaries will be TPP`s existing customers and all cell research labs in the biotechnology and diagnostic industry involved._x000D_

Acronym MAXCOAT (Reference Number: 5086)
Duration 15/04/2010 - 15/07/2012
Project Topic Two SMEs and ETH Zurich will develop the next generation of cell culture labware for the biotech and other industries by a) up-grading a protein coating technology, b) integrating coated shims in new molds and c) constructing a fully automated in-line production process.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
We have transferred the protein coating technology of Inmold to the industrial settings at TPP, established procedures for QA/QC in close collaboration with ETHZ. TPP is currently finalizing a demonstration production line for the first commercial product.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 3

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 InMold Biosystems A/S Partner Denmark
3 Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Partner Switzerland
3 TPP Techno Plastic Products AG Coordinator Switzerland