Journal article Open Access

Insect cells as factories for biomanufacturing

Drugmand, Jean-Christophe; Schneider, Yves-Jacques; Agathos, Spiros N.

Insect cells (IC) and particularly lepidopteran cells are an attractive alternative to mammalian cells for biomanufacturing. Insect cell culture, coupled with the lytic expression capacity of baculovirus expression vector systems (BEVS), constitutes a powerful platform, IC-BEVS, for the abundant and versatile formation of heterologous gene products, including proteins, vaccines and vectors for gene therapy. Such products can be manufactured on a large scale thanks to the development of efficient and scaleable production processes involving the integration of a cell growth stage and a stage of cell infection with the recombinant baculovirus vector. Insect cells can produce multimeric proteins functionally equivalent to the natural ones and engineered vectors can be used for efficient expression. Insect cells can be cultivated easily in serum- and protein-free media. A growing number of companies are currently developing an interest in producing therapeutics using IC-BEVS, and many products are today in clinical trials and on the market for veterinary and human applications. This review summarizes current knowledge on insect cell metabolism, culture conditions and applications. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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