BPE-33803 Animal Cell Biotechnology


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. DE Martens
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. DE Martens
ing. EJ van den End
ing. WAC Evers
Examiner(s)dr. ir. DE Martens

Language of instruction:



There is an increasing demand for new biopharmaceuticals. Biopharmaceuticals are for example monoclonal antibodies, certain hormones, blood clotting factors and vaccines. They are used against diseases like cancer, rheuma, polio, flu etc.. A major part of these biopharmaceuticals are complex compounds and proteins that cannot be made in classical production systems like E-coli, yeast and fungi, but can be produced by mammalian cells and sometimes by insect cells. Insect cells are also used to produce baculoviruses to be used as bio-insecticide. In addition, animal cells are used for the in-vitro engineering of tissues like liver, skin, bone and cartilage. Animal cells originate from a multicellular organism. As a consequence they require complex media and due to lack of a cell wall are sensitive to shear. This has major consequences for media development and the design and scale-up of bioreactors. This course aims to give insight into the consequences of the specific biological features of animal cells on the design and scale-up of production processes for animal cells.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain why animal cells are required for the production of certain biopharmaceuticals;
- relate the main differences between cultivation of animal cells and micro-organisms like yeast and bacteria to their physiology;
- cultivate insect cells in t-flasks, shake-flasks and a lab-scale bioreactor;
- determine the viable and dead cell concentration with an haemocytometer an automatic cell counter and evaluate their value;
- work correctly in a class-ii down-flow cabinet and understand how it works;
- design a bioreactor for animal cell cultivation based on shear forces and oxygen transfer;
- evaluate the relevance of different bioreactor and process types for animal cell culture;
- describe the process of apoptosis and necrosis and relate this to methods to measure apoptotic and necrotic cells;
- describe the primary metabolism of animal cells and relate it to process design;
- understand and design a virus production process considering the relation between multiplicity of infection and time of infection and virus stability.


- 5 lectures;
- practical work Students work in a group of 3 to 4 persons on two assignments;
- cultivation of insect cells in a lab-scale bioreactor;
- cesign a large-scale production process for an influenza subunit vaccine using the baculovirus expression system.


Individual grade for the final closed book exam (75% of final grade) and a group grade for the practical (25% of final grade). Both grades have to be above 5.5.


Distributed at the start of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MBTBiotechnologyMScA: Cellular/Molecular Biotechnology6MO
MBTBiotechnologyMScD: Process Technology6MO
MBTBiotechnologyMScC: Medical Biotechnology6MO