Novel Radial Gradient in Fibrous-Bed Bioreactors with Cellulose Hydrogel
Carol Sze Ki Lin of the City University of Hong Kong and Srinivas Mettu of the University of Melbourne in Australia will develop a new, low-cost bioreactor system to mimic the human gut and facilitate simultaneous growth of multiple bacterial strains with diverse growth requirements. A healthy mixture of bacteria in the human gut is essential to overall health, and live biotherapeutics could be used to restore this population in infants whose gut microbiota has been damaged by malnutrition. Manufacture of these therapeutics is difficult and expensive: the human gut contains multiple strains of bacteria with diverse environmental and nutritional growth requirements, and designing a bioreactor to accommodate such variation is difficult. They will create stratified growth zones within one reactor based on immobilization of the bacteria on a low-cost, biodegradable plant-based cellulose hydrogel. They will alter the porosity and surface chemistry of the hydrogel to create variations in pH and oxygen and nutrient levels within the reactor to simulate the human gut from stomach to rectum. This will facilitate the simultaneous growth of ten bacterial strains with diverse growth requirements, first in a lab setting and later on a commercial scale.