Transient and continuous recombinant protein expression by HEK cells was evaluated in a perfused monolithic bioreactor. Highly porous synthetic cryogel scaffolds (10ml bed volume) were characterised by scanning electron microscopy and tested as cell substrates. Efficient seeding was achieved (94% inoculum retained, with 91-95% viability). Metabolite monitoring indicated continuous cell growth, and endpoint cell density was estimated by genomic DNA quantification to be 5.2x108, 1.1x109 and 3.5x1010 at day 10, 14 and 18. Culture of stably transfected cells allowed continuous production of the Drosophila cytokine Spätzle by the bioreactor at the same rate as in monolayer culture (total 1.2 mg at d18) and this protein was active. In transient transfection experiments more protein was produced per cell compared with monolayer culture. Confocal microscopy confirmed homogenous GFP expression after transient transfection within the bioreactor. Monolithic bioreactors are thus shown to be a flexible and powerful tool for manufacturing recombinant proteins
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