RNA bioreactor

What we did
Design for manufacture
Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing
Mechanical design
RNA bioreactor

RNA vaccines, such as those used successfully in the COVID-19 pandemic, have the potential to be produced much faster than traditional vaccines. In the case of COVID-19, the development of an RNA-based vaccine took just 63 days from the release of the virus sequence to the first dosing in humans, leading to accelerated clinical trials and ultimately billions of doses being manufactured.

RNA vaccine production starts with in-vitro transcription: the enzymatic production of the RNA molecule based off a DNA template. This step requires tight process control: small alterations in the bioreactor used can have significant impact on the efficiency and quality attributes of the RNA produced.

For this project we were challenged by The University of Sheffield’s Kis Group to quickly prototype a new bioreactor concept they had been working on. We met with the bioprocess engineers and modellers in the research group to discuss existing design ideas. Due to the fast pace they were running their Wellcome Leap project at, they needed new hardware immediately. We started from some initial CFD designs that the group had been working on, discussed ways that we could turn these theoretical concepts into manufacturable designs, and then quickly designed and prototyped the bioreactor. This project had tight time constraints, required precision engineering due to the sensitivity of the design to part tolerance, and had a complex set of biocompatibility considerations.

Our team rose to the challenge: from first briefing meeting to delivering custom hardware was just 4 weeks, unrivalled speed to match the ambitious pace of Dr. Kis’ research group.

Dr. Zoltán Kis is leading a large research project funded via the Wellcome Leap R3 programme aiming to innovate RNA vaccine and therapeutic production processes. His team’s work on RNA vaccine manufacturing and production process modelling has received high-profile media coverage in the UK and internationally e.g. on BBC World News, BBC Radio (4,5 and World Series), Sky News, RTL TV, China Central Television (CCTV), Nature News, The Lancet, BMJ, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The New York Times and many more.

Bioprocess research is often held back by a need for researchers to use off-the-shelf laboratory equipment. Our design engineers can unlock new scientific progress by providing hardware that matches your process: rather than sculpting your process to the limitations of the equipment you can get your hands on.

RNA bioreactor