Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Chemical Engineering

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Centre for Biological Engineering

Research into Monitoring Stem Cell Growth in Bioreactors

March 14

Dr. Karen Coopman has recently been awarded £100k funding from the EPSRC for a feasibility study looking at the development of an optical system that can be integrated into a stirred tank bioreactor in order to the track the growth and morphology of cells on microcarriers. The specific application is in the production of mesenchymal stem cells.

Mesenchymal cells (typically extracted from bone marrow) have the ability to transform into almost any kind of cell in the human body. They are therefore extremely useful as a means of supplying cells to repair a variety of different tissues or organs that have been damaged. An example is a damaged heart muscle suffered after a heart attack. So far we are able to grow such cells at the laboratory scale, generating for instance, millions of mesenchymal stem cells in a bioreactor over a period of 2 weeks. One of the major research areas of the Centre for Biological Engineering at Loughborough is looking at ways that production of stem cells can be done on a much larger scale, and for this we need to develop tools that will help us monitor and control the process to ensure the cells grown in this way are the same every time - just as we would expect other medicines to be identical from batch to batch.

mesenchymal stem cellsThe optical system will enable the growth and morphology of such cells to be monitored continuously inside the bioreactor. This can then be used to help optimise growing conditions such that enough cells can be manufactured consistently to treat large numbers of patients. This work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr. Haydn Martin from the University of Huddersfield.

The photo shows Mesenchymal stem cells growing on microcarriers – the challenge is to be able to take images like this within the bioreactor.


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Department of Chemical Engineering
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

+44 (0)1509 222 533