Automation and miniaturization: Enabling tools for fast, high-throughput process development in integrated continuous biomanufacturing

Tiago Castanheira Silva, Michel Eppink, Marcel Ottens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Process development in the biotech industry leads to investments around hundred of millions of dollars. It is important to mitigate costs without neglecting the quality of process development. Biopharmaceutical process development is important for companies to develop new processes and be first to market, improve a pre-established process, or start manufacturing a product available by patent expiry (biosimilars). Laboratory automation enables methodical and standardized process development. Miniaturization and parallelization empower laboratories to screen several experimental conditions and define operating windows for purification processes, improving process robustness. Together, they allow for fast and accurate process development in a fraction of the time and cost of nonminiaturized/nonparallel process development approaches. The most widely used High-Throughput Screening technique is a liquid-handling station and microfluidics is taking its first steps in process development. Both are attractive scale-down tools for the characterization of bioprocesses and allow thousands of experiments to be performed per day. High-Throughput Process Development (HTPD) has helped to achieve major breakthroughs in process optimization, both for upstream and downstream processing. Continuous processing is the next step in process development which leads to cost reduction, higher productivity and better quality control; the integration of upstream and downstream processes is seen as a major challenge. In this review, we will focus on the state-of-the-art of miniaturized techniques for process development in the biotechnology industry, and how automation and miniaturization drive process development. A comparison between liquid-handling stations and microfluidics is made and an indication is given of which tools are still lacking for HTPD in the context of Integrated Continuous Biomanufacturing.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • automation
  • high-throughput process development
  • integrated continuous biomanufacturing
  • liquid-handling stations
  • microfluidics
  • miniaturization


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