Digital twins for continuous mRNA production
The global coronavirus pandemic continues to restrict public life worldwide. An effective means of limiting the pandemic is vaccination. Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines currently available on the market have proven to be a well-tolerated and effective class of vaccine against coronavirus type 2 (CoV2). Accordingly, demand is presently outstripping mRNA vaccine production. One way to increase productivity is to switch from the currently performed batch to continuous in vitro transcription, which has proven to be a crucial material-consuming step. In this article, a physico-chemical model of in vitro mRNA transcription in a tubular reactor is presented and compared to classical batch and continuous in vitro transcription in a stirred tank. The three models are validated based on a distinct and quantitative validation workflow. Statistically significant parameters are identified as part of the parameter determination concept. Monte Carlo simulations showed that the model is precise, with a deviation of less than 1%. The advantages of continuous production are pointed out compared to batchwise in vitro transcription by optimization of the space–time yield. Improvements of a factor of 56 (0.011 μM/min) in the case of the continuously stirred tank reactor (CSTR) and 68 (0.013 μM/min) in the case of the plug flow reactor (PFR) were found.