Article | October 18, 2011

Key Considerations When Outsourcing Cell-Culture Medium Development

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific

The rational design of cell-culture medium originated with Harry Eagle in 1955 when he began culturing cells in what would eventually become the progenitor of Eagles Medium. In subsequent decades, suppliers established a commercial market for the development and supply of cell-culture media. Over the next 45 years, these suppliers brought significant innovation to this field, including introducing the first serum-free medium, pioneering the creation of new media formats, and enabling many of the current high titer cell-culture processes. As the value of products derived from mammalian cells exponentially increased, so too has the demand for medium to culture cells. Today, cell-culture media for biological manufacturing represents a sizable market of more than $500M, but more impressive is the cumulative value of therapeutic products enabled by these reagents, which totals more than $35B. Given the importance of these reagents, major suppliers, drug manufacturers, and other biotech companies continue to make significant investments to improve their cell-culture media platforms. Despite the expectations can vary widely, even among members of the same team; therefore such expectations need to be fully vetted, and priorities need to be set during the preliminary outsourcing discussions. The specified goals will ultimately define the technical approach for the project. While multiple goals can be designed into a project, budget and time constraints likely will force both parties to set priorities.