BEE International Blog

Cell Rupture / Disruption / Lysis Methods

Posted by Deb Shechter on Sep 12, 2014 4:31:42 PM

Cell Rupture / cell disruption / cell lysis, by any name, rupturing cells in a controlled fashion is essential for both research and manufacturing. Some cells, such as yeasts, are much harder to rupture than others. The method chosen for rupturing the cell also has to take into account the nature of the final product- if the cell is being ruptured in order to obtain an active protein, the method chosen has to be gentle enough to not denature or damage the protein.


3D_Cell_rupture3 D Cell Rupture

Enzymatic digestion is often used in the laboratory as a very gentle method of cell rupture. The cell walls of yeast and bacteria are digested with special enzymes and then the unprotected cell can easily be ruptured by a mild osmotic shock. Enzymatic rupture methods are, in general, too expensive to use in large-scale manufacturing.

Chemical methods of rupturing cells are sometimes used. When RNA is the desired product, rupturing cells with a strong chaotropic agent such as urea or guanidine is the approach of choice. These agents denature the proteins, including the many RNA-digesting enzymes present in cells, thus allowing the RNA to be isolated intact. Milder chemical methods, such as using surfactants (e.g. Triton), will allow some active proteins to be isolated. Chemical methods can also be expensive to use in large-scale manufacturing.

Mechanical methods of cell rupture include ball mills, blenders, French presses, homogenizers, and ultrasonic disruption. Ultrasonic disruption is often used in the laboratory with yeast and bacteria, but it is too expensive to use on a larger scale. Blenders and French presses are easy to use in the laboratory, but cannot be readily scaled up for manufacturing. Ball mills are not as popular because the balls need to be removed- an extra step- and usually can only be used once- adding to the cost. Homogenizers are the method of choice for large-scale manufacturing.  

Lab Cell Disruption

BEE's cell disruption technology comes in both laboratory-sized machines and also in Production cell disruptionlarge-scale sizes for manufacturing. The technology is an in-line process that uses cavitation, shear and impact to rupture cells. The forces applied can be precisely adjusted to be as gentle as possible or to be very harsh for more difficult cell types. All aspects of the process can be adjusted- pressure, flow, cavitation, shear, impact and time- allowing the user to fine-tune the method for each application. The precision control of all aspects allows the method to be highly reproducible, and also allows for easy scaling-up. The BEE machines are also easy to clean and require little maintenance. 

Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our cell disruption technology. We have three sizes of machines ideal for any laboratory, and industrial-sized machines for manufacturing. 


Topics: cell disruption, Biotechnology, cell lysis

Cell lysis equipment: thinking ahead

Posted by Deb Shechter on Aug 21, 2014 5:01:00 PM


When you're looking for cell disruption equipment for the research laboratory equipment you need a system that is flexible. Depositphotos_12442035_xs_Cell_TechnologyCell TechnologyYou're probably aware of the final goal of the research program but since it's research, it's all about trying different things out. If your equipment doesn't let you try things out it's the wrong equipment for the research environment. 


Some cell lysis equipment uses shear. Others use sonic cavitation. Ours uses shear, cavitation and impact- and the user can adjust the relative amount of each force for different applications or to see which procedure works best for a particular application. You may have thought your research team was trying to produce a biological in bacteria and therefore just needed a sonicator, but when they realize the biologic isn't full active unless processed in an eukaryotic system and switch to yeast you'll wish you had bought the BEE homogenizer instead. 


Many research laboratory managers don't consider scalability when making purchasing decisions for the research setting. This is one of the reasons the once popular French Press is no longer a viable choice. Because everything is done small-scale in the research laboratory it just isn't a consideration. Let's say your lab started out with bacteria and bought a sonicator. Then they switched to a yeast system. The lab manager refused to buy more expensive equipment, so the team started using an enzymatic lysis method. The purified biologic showed tremendous potential in early experiments. The team proposed to start some clinical trials- which requires scaling up production. However, the costs of scaling up enzymatic lysis of yeast can be prohibitive. The entire research program could be shelved on budgetary grounds before it barely gets started- due to failure to consider "scalability" at the earliest steps. It would be sad if the cure for the cold was shelved because someone decided to not buy a BEE homogenizer. 

As a cell lysis device a BEE homogenizer is fully scalable because all of the parameters are tightly controlled and fully reproducible. After the research team spends weeks changing the parameters on their cell lysis unit to find the optimal method of cell disruption, these parameters can simply be used on a larger scale. All BEE units allow for full control over the pressures and fluid velocities being used during the process. 

Designed for the lab


For the laboratory setting, BEE offers three different sizes of laboratory homogenizers as cell disruption devices. The largest has a flow rate of 250 ml per minute. It can be placed on a standard laboratory bench and is self-cooling so it doesn't have to take up space in the cold room. The smallest unit can process a sample as small as 15 ml, and offers a wide range of operating pressures to allow for experimentation and optimization. It is also self-cooling and is smaller than many desktop centrifuges. The intermediate size can process a sample as small as 15 ml, but can also process up to 15 liters per hour. 

Our cell lysis equipment is the best, whether you want it for the research setting or for large-scale production. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. 

Topics: cell disruption, pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, scalability, cell lysis

Particle size reduction equipment: is the microemulsion the drug delivery vehicle of the future?

Posted by Jen Hug on Aug 18, 2014 5:26:00 PM

Delivering therapeutic compounds into people or animals can be quite challenging. Digestive fluids destroy many compounds, including the biologics many pharmaceutical companies have been investigating lately. Taking drugs by injection doesn't appeal to most people, and increases the risk of infection from needles. 


Transdermal_patch_for_particle_size_reductionTransdermal drug delivery

One of the major functions of the skin is to keep out foreign agents. The skin does this with great efficiency, including keeping out pharmaceuticals. There are many advantages then, if the skin barrier can be overcome by transdermal delivery of pharmaceuticals. The drug can be released slowly and continuously into the system. Since the drug doesn't enter the body via the digestive tract it doesn't go through the liver's detoxification systems before reaching the parts of the body that need it. The only problem is getting the drug through the skin barrier.

What is a microemulsion?

Microemulsions have been under extensive study recently, as possible transdermal drug delivery systems. A microemulsion is a clear or transparent system with stable particles smaller than 150 nm. The emulsions which most of us are familiar with are cloudy or milky with large particles, and are not stable, eventually separating into its various phases. 

Microemulsions are ideal for transdermal drug delivery. Once created, they are stable. They can carry both hydrophilic and lipophilic drugs. Due to their structure, microemulsions can carry very high concentrations of drugs, and have an enhanced ability to pass through the skin. The small size of the particles, action of the surfactants on the skin, and the continuously fluctuating interphases can breach the skin's barrier.

Studies of the ideal microemulsion to carry specific drugs into the body through the skin are ongoing. Reducing the particle size may improve the penetration of most emulsions. Varying the oils, surfactants, and viscosity of the microemulsion can all affect the ability of the microemulsion to deliver drugs through the skin. Microemulsions can even be created that only deliver drugs into the skin rather than through it. The cosmetic industry uses microemulsions to deliver anti-wrinkle products into the skin's layers. 

Skin irritation?

One concern with the use of microemulsions to deliver drugs is their ability to irritate skin. In tests conducted to date, microemulsions, in general, seem to be far less irritating than solutions of sodium lauryl sulfate, a moderate to severe skin irritant. Most microemulsions have been about as irritating to the skin as saline. Test subjects exposed to microemulsions for up to four days exhibited no skin redness or apparent irritation. 

Microemulsions show great promise as drug delivery systems. If your research lab needs particle size-reduction equipment to expedite research into the ideal microemulsion to carry a particular pharmaceutical across or into the skin, don't hesitate to contact us

Topics: particle size reduction, Pharmaceutical, pharmaceuticals, microemulsions, Biotechnology, Chemical

2 Ways High Pressure Pasteurization is Utilized in the Food Industry

Posted by Jen Hug on Dec 21, 2013 8:58:00 AM

describe the image2 Ways High Pressure Pasteurization is Utilized in the Food Industry

The food industry has struggled with one question for years, “How do you remove harmful bacteria from food without sacrificing taste and quality?” High pressure pasteurization (or processing; HPP) is becoming a popular choice amongst food manufacturers, due to the fact that it does not expose food to detrimental processing.  Heat, which is a popular choice, could potentially change the flavor and nutritional content of a product. This happens when organic matter has been burnt off while neutralizing bacteria and must be supplemented, resulting in obvious changes in composition.  New ways to pasteurize with high pressure are likely being developed, but at this time there are only two popular methods of production.

Pasteurization using large tanks is fairly common and simple. Prepackaged food is placed into a tank filled with water. That water is then pressurized, meaning that high pressure is equally distributed throughout the tank, neutralizing the bacteria. The food is unchanged because the pressure is equally distributed throughout the food. The advantage of the tank method is that it can pasteurize large amounts of solid food at one time. One downside is getting the food in and out of the tanks takes time and involves manual labor.

The other form of high pressure pasteurization involves using a high pressure homogenizer to pasteurize liquids or semi-solid products. The product is fed directly into the device and then pushed through a system of tubes and nozzles using the intensified pressure generated by a hydraulic pumping system. The advantage to this form of high pressure pasteurization is that it also allows the product to be emulsified or even broken down while being pasteurized. This removes a step for those products that benefit from the combination of cell rupture and organic matter size reduction. While heat could be a factor during HPP (since it is released when pressure is heightened), heat exchangers and chillers can be used to keep product temperatures low, eliminating any harmful side effects from the processing.

Overall, high pressure pasteurization is a profitable option for the food industry. It neutralizes bacteria while leaving taste behind. The option that any manufacturer chooses is going to be based on their needs. For liquid and semi-solid products, using a high pressure homogenizer is both cost effective and recommended. Product can be both processed and pasteurized simultaneously, meaning that much of the labor used during manufacturing can be applied elsewhere and workflow can be streamlined. For solid products, and those that would not benefit from homogenization or mixing, the tank option is perfect. Large amounts of food can be pasteurized at once, after it has been processed, meaning that quality and taste is retained and any harmful bacteria neutralized. No matter which method is appropriate for a product, you cannot go wrong with high pressure. 

photo credit: fotoliene via photopin cc

Topics: high pressure pasteurization, pasteurization, processed and pasteurized, HPP, processing, food processing, Foods

2 Ways High Pressure is Changing the Pharmaceutical Industry

Posted by Jen Hug on Jul 12, 2013 2:02:00 PM

2 Ways High Pressure is Changing the Pharmaceutical Industry

describe the imageWhen we see the words “high pressure” we generally picture ourselves or those around us under distress. Jobs with strict deadlines and high expectations can be emotionally, physically and socially problematic for those that have them.  In addition, a powerful buildup of gases is considered dangerous and could potentially lead to an explosion. Despite the negative connotations associated with them, anyone who pays close enough attention to the weather forecast knows that those words indicate sunny days to come. High pressure forces can also lead to positive results in the pharmaceutical industry by helping to alleviate two major obstacles in the development of new medications.


One difficulty the pharmaceutical industry faces is bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the amount of medication your body absorbs. When a drug is taken orally, the absorption can be much lower than other routes of administration (e.g. nasal, intravenous and epidural), which is problematic since many medications are delivered this way. Even when you take a vitamin, you do not receive the full dosage that you swallow. In drugs with poor water solubility, this bioavailability decreases because the particles are too big to dissolve into water (and water passes easily through the body). Using high pressure machinery to reduce particle size can increase bioavailability and dissolution. For the pharmaceutical industry this means producing medications that have more effective dosages.


Another problem the pharmaceutical industry faces is poor cell disruption. As you know, cells are the building blocks of life. Sometimes what is contained within a cell can be valuable, but cell walls can act as a strong defense against the breakdown of that cell.  High pressure forces can create the necessary cell disruption, allowing for the usually unattainable contents to be harvested. While cell disruption can be useful to a number of industries, in pharmacology it can mean creating newer and more effective medications.


I know you’re wondering, “How does this affect me? Why should I care?” The answer is simple: high pressure modified medication can improve your quality of life. Prescription drugs that can more effectively absorb into your body mean spending less time sick and more time active. Subsequently, this leads to happier people and since happier people tend to be healthy people, the use of such medications could indirectly lead to longer periods of uninterrupted good health.                                                                


So, while high pressure may seem daunting in some contexts, for the pharmaceutical industry it means innovation and improvement. Since high pressure machinery is currently in use in research and development laboratories across the globe, it is only a matter of time before the greater effects of this technology is felt.


photo credit: nima; hopographer via photopin cc

Topics: pharmaceutical industry, cell disruption, particle size reduction, Pharmaceutical, pressure, pharmaceuticals, high pressure

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