Microbial Fermentation Companies: Impact of the Pandemic

Since the discovery of recombinant DNA technology, several types of microbes have been established as a versatile biomolecule expression system. This can be attributed to the ease of handling of microbial cell lines, which are considered less fragile (compared to cells of higher eukaryotes); rendering them a popular choice for manufacturing operations. Moreover, incremental evolution of the concept of microbial fermentation have facilitated various companies in development and improvement of microbe-based manufacturing technologies. Presently, there are a number of traditional and innovative microbial fermentation companies offering expression systems / platforms, which are used for a variety of biologics contract manufacturing and small molecules.

Microbial Manufacturing Market has numerous platforms which are used for producing different type of biologics as explained in this image by Roots Analysis

What are the key differences between microbial and mammalian expression systems?

There are several expression systems, such as mammalian, microbial, insect and plant cell-based systems; however, amongst these, mammalian and microbial expression systems are the most prominent.

S. No.ParametersMammalian Expression SystemsMicrobial Expression Systems
1Ease of working with cellsTheir fragile nature makes these systems difficult to handleComparatively easier to work with / handle
2CostHighly expensiveModerately expensive
3Ease of culturing cellsCulturing of mammalian cells is a difficult process and requires expertiseComparatively easier to culture and do not require highly skilled personnel
4Transfection methodsTransfection is primarily done via liposome mediated transfection, electroporation and microinjectionTransfection is done mainly through heat shock method
5Post-translational modificationsPost-translation modifications occur within the cellPost-translational modification is required to be done in an additional step after the release of protein / product
6Preservation of native structureAntibody produced will be relatively closer to its native structureAntibodies can be expressed; however, their similarity to native structure is low
7ExamplesChinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells, human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells, and the WI-38 and MRC-5 cell lines (derived from fetal cells)Bacterial expression systems: Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurum, Vibrio cholerae and Bacillus brevis Yeast expression system: Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris

What is the outsourcing trend within the micorbial fermentation comapanies?

Over the years, the outsourcing trends for microbial fermentation companies have been increased with an annualized rate of 4%. It is worth noting that, since 2018 the outsourcing activities for microbial fermentation companies has expediated from 60% to 70%, approximately. The current pandemic seems to have no significant impact on the outsourcing activity, in contrast there is an increased demand for the production of biologics for the treatment of COVID-19. Moreover, once the pandemic subsidies, prioritization of the outsourced projects will form the part of new normal. Below are the list of some advantages and disadvantages associated with microbial fermentation companies.

Outsourcing of Microbial Manufacturing activities are growing. There are many advantages and disadvantages as explained by Roots Analysis

What are the recent initiatives undertaken by Microbial Fermentation Companies, to combat COVID-19?

In the past few months, the microbial fermentation companies have undertaken various collaborative initiatives, to develop vaccines / biologics as the potential therapeutic against COVID-19. For instance, Cytovance Biologics have signed a process development and manufacturing agreement with Akshaya Bio, to upscale the production of the therapeutic vaccine against COVID-19 using Cytovance’s GMP insect cell microbial manufacturing platform.

Players engaged in the microbial fermentation CMO market have already proved their potential in the biopharmaceutical industry. Moreover, the innovation and adoption of novel fermentation technologies have significantly brought down the cost of manufacturing. Having said that, we are laid to believe that microbial fermentation will provide lucrative business opportunities in the coming decade.

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