PHC and Univercells Technologies Partner to Bring New Bioreactor Technology to Japan for Gene Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Development

December 1, 2021
PHC Corporation

TOKYO, December 1, 2021 – PHCbi, the Biomedical Division of PHC Corporation and a global provider of laboratory and medical support equipment and services in the life sciences field, today introduced a new line of fixed-bed bioreactors manufactured by Univercells Technologies S.A. to the Japanese market. The scale-XTM bioreactors portfolio will enable scientists and researchers developing therapies in Japan to seamlessly scale from early process development to commercial manufacturing of viral vectors for gene therapies and to advance regenerative medicine. PHCbi will be appointed as the sole distributor of scale-X systems in Japan.

Regenerative medicine and gene therapy are expected to accelerate the availability of radical therapies using cells and tissues and the creation of new vaccines and therapeutic agents. National efforts to promote the industrialization of these therapeutic modalities may be restrained by conventional technologies such as CO2 incubators and culture flasks, which can limit capacity and reproducibility of viral vectors and carry high costs. Under these circumstances, there is a need for reliable, intensified and automated solutions to allow mass production of high-quality viral vectors in large quantities and at affordable costs.

The scale-X portfolio meets this need, featuring intensified bioreactors that offer growth surface areas from 2.4m2 to 600m2, providing a significant increase in surface-area-to-volume ratio compared to conventional technologies. It delivers similar fluid conditions at all scales, ensuring predictable cell and product behavior. When integrated within advanced, automated upstream solutions*1, these bioreactors deliver continuously concentrated harvest for simplified purification. Process control functionalities connected to the bioreactor automate the culturing protocol and monitor the parameters of the inner environment. Additionally, the scalable design allows for the constant linear velocity of fluids and even distribution through the fixed bed of the bioreactor to ensure a smooth scale-up.

The scale-X hydro system (2.4m2 of growth surface) was developed to support proof-of-concepts and early development activities. The scale-X carbo system (10m2 and 30m2 of growth surface) is for accelerating process development and supporting clinical validation and good manufacturing practices (GMP).

Nobuaki Nakamura, corporate officer and co-head of the Life Sciences/Diagnostics Domain of PHC Holdings Corporation said, “Since the launch of our first CO2 incubator in 1984, we have made continuous efforts to improve and enhance the quality and performance of cell culturing technologies, and have expanded our business to secure the top market share in Japan*2 and the second largest position globally*3. The addition of Univercells Technologies scale-X bioreactors enables us to expand our cell culture portfolio and meet a wider range of needs, from fundamental research to commercial production of viral vectors and other types of cells.”

For more information about the scale-X hydro and scale-X carbo systems, please visit (Japanese website).

scale-X hydro and scale-X carbo system
Product Images

*scale-X is trademark or registered trademark of Univercells Technologies S.A.

*1 Upstream refers to the process of culturing cells and growing a massive number of drug substances or other products. Downstream refers to the process of purifying and concentrating isolated drug substances or other products.
*2 Source for Japan figures: “Latest Trends and Future Potentiality of Tissue Engineering Related Market 2021” by Fuji Keizai Co., Ltd. (sales amount in 2020).
*3 Source for global figures: “Global Assessment of Life Science Equipment 2019” by Frost&Sullivan (unit share in FY2018).

About PHC Holdings Corporation (PHC Group)

PHC Holdings Corporation (TSE 6523) is a global healthcare company with a mission of contributing to the health of society through healthcare solutions that have a positive impact and improve the lives of people. Its subsidiaries including PHC Corporation, Ascensia Diabetes Care Holdings AG, Epredia, and LSI Medience Corporation. Together, these companies develop, manufacture, sell and service solutions across diabetes management, healthcare solutions, life sciences and diagnostics. The PHC Group’s consolidated net sales in FY2020 were 306 billion yen with global distribution of products and services in more than 125 countries.

About Biomedical Division of PHC Corporation

Established in 1969, PHC Corporation is a Japanese subsidiary of global healthcare company PHC Holdings Corporation. Its Biomedical Business Unit is active in life sciences business and supports scientists and researchers in around 110 countries through its laboratory and medical support equipment and services including PHCbi branded CO2 incubators and ultra-low temperature freezers.

About Univercells Technologies S.A.

Univercells Technologies is a global provider of innovative biomanufacturing technologies to achieve cost-effective viral production ranging from the R&D phases all the way to fully commercial scale. The company offers a comprehensive technology portfolio leveraging the strengths of process intensification and chaining as a direct answer to the growing demand of viral vectors and viral vaccines. Univercells Technologies is committed to helping customers increase performance with minimized footprints and costs today while anticipating the needs of tomorrow.

Building upon years of expertise and capitalizing on technology vetted by world leaders, Univercells Technologies was incorporated in Belgium in 2020 following its carve-out from Univercells with the support of the Univercells Group and Gamma Biosciences.
LinkedIn: Univercells Technologies

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Biomedical Division of PHC Corporation