In February of 1985, Ed Bjurstrom’s article, “Biotechnology,” was published in Chemical Engineering magazine. It was an early survey of the unit operations, from a process engineering viewpoint, that comprised the typical bioprocess manufacturing trains of the time. A look back at this article today is highly informative; it serves as a base point from which the trajectory of the industry emanates at the time of Eli Lilly’s Humulin, and in the years before the approval of Epogen and Protropin. Fermentation processes are discussed in great detail, but the term “cell culture” is noticeably absent. Bioreaction systems contain “potential product worth perhaps tens of thousands of dollars” and chromatography column diameters are measured in centimeters, not meters.
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