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International collaboration develops in-process control for manufacturing regenerative medicines

A Loughborough University graduate has helped develop an improved system for monitoring the manufacture of stem cells for use in regenerative medicines.

Regenerative medicines, also known as cell therapies, use stem cells in a wide range of treatments designed to enable damaged, diseased or defective skin, bone and other tissues to work normally again.

A key challenge of translating cell therapies to clinical settings is the manufacture of cells in sufficient quantity and in safe and cost effective ways to ensure the viability of the product and the industry as a whole.

Dr David Smith worked with Finland-based CM Technologies Oy – a company specialising in the development of tools for cell biology applications – to try and tackle this challenge.

The collaborative project saw the application of CM Technologies’ automated, non-invasive imaging platform, known as Cell-IQ®, to the measurement, analysis and quantification of stem cells.

Using Cell-IQ®, Dr Smith has derived image-based metrics for the culture of both human embryonic stem cells and haematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells.  He has shown that imaging has the ability to improve the precision of current evaluation methods for cell culture, and that metrics derived from images can be used to predict the future state of a cell culture.

Dr Smith completed his four-year PhD at the University’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine in December.  His PhD was co-sponsored by CM Technologies Oy.

Speaking about his research he said: “The opportunity to work in collaboration with an international company during my PhD allowed me to develop further skills and experiences that would not have been possible without a sponsor company.  Working alongside CM Technologies’ product development team allowed a constant communication of ideas, enhancing both my research and the company’s product.  This communication was also key to building my network of contacts and helping to secure a future role within the industry.”

Chief Executive Officer of CM Technologies, Dr Jane Spencer-Fry, said: “Cell-based therapies is a rapidly expanding field, success in this area will ultimately lie in the ability to develop and implement robust methodologies to ensure high quality, therapeutic-grade cells are generated reproducibly.  CMT’s technology has much to offer researchers working in this area and David has had the opportunity to exploit this technology through our collaboration which we plan to continue.  We are proud to have supported David, I wish him luck in his new role and congratulate him on his successful graduation.”

Dr Robert Thomas from the University’s School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering was Dr Smith’s advisor throughout his studies.  He said: “Enhanced analysis of cells in processes will be critical to allowing the regenerative medicine industry to consistently produce safe and effective products.  We are privileged to have EPSRC Innovative Manufacturing and Doctoral Training Centres at Loughborough that enable us to conduct industrially collaborative projects with the support of innovative companies such as CM Technologies.

“David’s work has identified some exciting applications for image analysis in the regenerative medicine area and we look forward to further collaboration with CM Technologies to generate real world impact from this research.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: February news

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

About CM Technologies Oy

CM Technologies Oy (formerly Chip-Man Technologies Oy) was founded in 2002through collaboration between researchers from Tampere University and the Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT. CM Technologies has combined its expertise in cell biology, engineering and machine vision technology to develop and market unique products for kinetic live cell imaging and analysis. The company focuses on providing researchers with tools that will enable them to study live cell behaviour in an optimised and stable environment and analyse the findings automatically and label-free. The company’s products are used globally, supporting the research efforts of scientists in areas such as cell biology, stem cell research, regenerative medicine, functional genomics, in-vitro toxicology, drug discovery and in-vitro fertilisation. CM Technologies is located in Tampere, Finland. More information can be found at www.c-mtechnologies.com.

About the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine

The EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine was created in 2007 following the award of £7.2million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is led from Loughborough University in the UK, in partnership with complementary research groups at Keele University and The University of Nottingham. The Doctoral Training Centre has recently been extended through a £3.5million award jointly from the EPSRC and the Medical Research Council (MRC) and is now known as the EPSRC-MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine. A total of over 110 PhD students will graduate from the Centre between 2007 and 2022, creating a new cohort of early career researchers ready to join the growing regenerative medicine sector. More information can be found at www.dtcregen-med.com.

About the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine was created in 2010 following the award of £5.8million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is led from Loughborough University in the UK, in partnership with complementary research groups at Keele University and The University of Nottingham. Each university brings its own expertise to create a unique partnership combining leadership in regulated manufacturing, tissue engineering and clinical science. The EPSRC Centre works to equip the regenerative medicine industry with manufacturing tools, technologies and platforms by considering the ‘right therapy, right patient, right time’ supply chain from end to end. More information can be found at www.epsrc-regen-med.org.

About the EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800million a year in a broad range of subjects – from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering. More information can be found at www.epsrc.ac.uk.

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