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Master Thesis: Production of influenza virus in high cell density MDCK suspension culture

The Department of Bioprocess Engineering (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Udo Reichl) at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg is looking for a master student in the field of upstream processing. The topic of the work will be run under the title:

Production of influenza virus in high cell density MDCK suspension culture
For the production of vaccines against seasonal flu the pharmaceutical industry commonly uses infected chicken eggs as the source of different influenza virus subtypes chosen by the WHO. Due to limitations in productivity and the lack of flexibility, animal cell culture can be used as an alternative to an egg based vaccine production system. Here animal cell lines are cultivated in a bioreactor and infected with viruses which amplify in the reactor and get harvested to form the crude product for the vaccine. To enhance productivity of cell culture based vaccine processes, process intensification can be applied to improve titer, space time yield or cellular productivity with the help of novel process techniques. One quite obvious approach for an improved virus titer is the use of higher cell densities, which can be limited by media composition and the accumulation of waste products in batch or fed-batch modes. To achieve high cell densities perfusion can be used where media is replaced without the loss of cellular biomass. With the help of filtration systems for cell retention (ATF and TFF) very high cell densities (> 100 Mio cells/mL) are possible, which introduces new process optimization challenges.

For the master thesis a MDCK suspension cell line will be cultivated to high cell densities (min. 40 Mio cells/mL) in different cultivation media. First a semi perfusion approach will be used for small scale cultivation in shaker flasks followed by a scale up to a 1 L STR with alternating flow filtration (ATF) or tangential flow filtration (TFF) for cell retention. Additionally, the infection of the MDCKsus cells will be optimized both in small scale and in a STR. For this project you will learn skills for the cultivation of mammalian suspension cells (shaker and STR), employ state of the art perfusion techniques for high cell density and use a wide set of analytical tools for cell cultivation (cell counter, metabolic analysis, online monitoring) as well as for virus infection (HA-assay, TCID-50, cytometer). You will work in a state of the art cell culture laboratory in an international group of researchers, TAs and students.


This announcement refers to students in the field of (bio)chemical engineering, biotechnology, technical biology, biosystems engineering or related fields with a passion for process optimization of biological systems. Experience in the field of cell culture, reactor cultivation or virology are beneficial. Self-directed initiative goal orientated work in the context of our research area is expected.

How to apply:
Please send your application (motivation letter, CV, high school & university grades and references) until December 31st, 2016 only via E-mail.
Kontakt für Bewerbungen
 Mr. Thomas Bissinger (bissinger@mpi-magdeburg.mpg.de)
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Über Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems

In 1996 the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems was established. The foundation director is Prof. em. Dr.-Ing. Ernst Dieter Gilles. The institute in Magdeburg is the first institute of the Max Planck Society dedicated to the engineering sciences and is supposed to bridge the gap between basic research and industrial applications. The neighbourhood to the Otto...

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