Suspension Cell Culture in Cell and Gene Therapy

BlogFebruary 18, 2023

The Growing Demand for Suspension Cell Culture Platforms

The biopharmaceutical sector is growing and demand for viral vectors as tools in the cell and gene therapy space is ever-increasing. To meet this climbing demand, manufacturers need to be able to increase capacity and upscale their production. One crucial element needed for upscaling the production of viral vectors is a flexible and scalable cell culture platform.

In this blog, Cyrill Kellerhals, Head of Manufacturing at Andelyn Biosciences, discusses the growing demand for suspension cell lines in cell and gene therapy development, and why adherent cell culture shouldn’t be left behind.


Growing Demand for Viral Vectors for Cell and Gene therapies

The viral vector development market is expected to grow from US$ 534 million in 2021 to over $3 billion by 2032 [1]. The success of the market has been supported by the growing success and subsequent demand for viral vector-based cell and gene therapies, with two more being approved in Q3 of 2022 and a growing number in the drug development pipeline [2]. As more applications for viral vectors are being discovered and the sophistication of the technology used for genetic editing improves, the demand for viral vectors is likely to increase further and require scalable processes to deliver these products to market.

Innovations for Now and the Future

Cell lines used to produce viral vectors can be classified as adherent or suspension cell lines. Adherent cell lines have a strong record of use for viral production, and they enable cells to grow quickly for the rapid production of high-quality viral vectors. The difficulties in using adherent cell lines stem from the need for growth in a 2D cell culture vessel and therefore require multiple large multi-layered flasks and several technicians to achieve a high yield. The extensive manual handling involved in the process can also increase human error, the risk of contamination, and the potential for variation between batches.

A major trend in the production of viral vectors for cell and gene therapies is the use of producer cell lines adapted to grow as suspension cell cultures to deliver large batches. The biology of suspension cell lines makes them useful candidates for large-scale production, having the ability to grow in a liquid volume without needing to attach to a two-dimensional surface. Suspension cultures can therefore be grown in high numbers in large purpose-built bioreactors of up to 2000 L.

Choosing Culture Platforms to Meet Scaling Demands

When developing viral vectors for cell and gene therapies, it is crucial to know how a product can be best taken from the early stages to commercialization. This may require small-scale batches to be developed at early stages in development and large-scale batches to meet the demand of late-phase clinical trials and commercialization.

The upscaling capabilities of suspension cell lines make them a useful option for fulfilling large-scale batch production, however, depending on the product, adherent alternatives might be better suited. Factors such as the indication, the amount of viral vector needed, or even the proportion of the body that the therapy will be exposed to can mean adherent cell cultures will be preferable to suspension cell lines. Therefore, having access to upstream processing expertise in both adherent and suspension cultures can provide the adaptability needed to meet the various needs of the industry and ultimately enhance the chance of success.

The Importance of Cell Culture Expertise

Cell line development can quickly become a stumbling block in the development of gene therapies, with early decisions having the potential to derail production attempts as project factors change. Staying on top of the latest trends and developments in cell line development is essential and when it comes to cell culture, offering both adherent cell and suspension cell line culture methods is important – particularly for scaling.

It is clear that high-quality suspension cultures have an essential role in managing the modern demands of the biopharmaceutical industry. Retaining expertise in adherent cell cultures will be crucial to have the flexibility needed to meet all manufacturing needs, helping to avoid planning and manufacturing issues throughout drug production. By partnering with CDMOs who have specialist knowledge and experience in both adherent and suspension cell culture platforms cell and gene therapy developers can ensure projects have every chance of success possible.


Please click here to learn more about how Andelyn Biosciences can support your next gene or cell therapy project, from preclinical concepts to cell line development and commercialization.