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.”

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