Periodic counter-current chromatography – design and operational considerations for integrated and continuous purification of proteins



Integrated and continuous processing of recombinant proteins offers several advantages over batch or semi-batch processing used traditionally in the biotechnology industry. This paper presents a theoretical and practical approach for designing a periodic counter-current chromatography (PCC) operation as a continuous capture purification step that is integrated with a perfusion cell culture process. The constraints for continuous and optimal PCC operation govern the selection of residence time and number of columns. The flexibility available in PCC design for selection of these parameters is dictated by the binding characteristics of the target protein on the capture resin. Using an empirical model for the protein breakthrough curve, analytical solutions to determine these conditions were derived and verified with experimental results for three different proteins: two relatively unstable proteins (recombinant enzymes) and a relatively stable protein (monoclonal antibody). The advantages of a continuous downstream capture step are highlighted for the three case studies in comparison with the existing batch chromatography processes. The use of PCC leads to improvements in process economics due to higher resin capacity utilization and correspondingly lower buffer consumption. Furthermore, integrated and continuous bioprocessing results in a smaller facility footprint by elimination of harvest hold vessels and clarification, as well as by reducing the capture column size by one to two orders of magnitude.