Tuesday, 15 March 2016 10:46

Adult stem cells in high throughput Featured

A European research team is in the process to produce mesenchymal stem cells by robots in mass on the assembly line. Therefore it should be possible for the treatment of arthritis, various cancer or organ diseases to deliver therapeutic stem cells quickly, cleanly and in sufficient quantities.

The scientists, led by Dr. Mary Murphy from the National University of Ireland in Galway, come from the fields of engineering sciences, regenerative medicine, and from high-tech companies. The first step is handmade: donor cells deriving from the bone marrow in the hip area will gathered in a syringe, but from then on everything is automatic. The isolation of the stem cells runs by antibody selection, the desired cell types glue on the surface of bioreactors, other cells are washed off. Thereafter, the cells grow on a large scale in bioreactors. Cell feeding takes place in specially developed media - of course FBS-free. Monitoring and control of oxygen, carbondioxide, pH and temperature is done from outside and can be adjusted at any time when needed.

The special heart is the robotic pipeline which is built on the longstanding experience of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) in Aachen. It can use previous experience with the StemCellFactory. A robot arm brings cells and other materials together. This keeps the quality at the same level, because due to people there can methodological errors and contamination occur which need to be prevented. Specially developed software combines the individual steps of the robot. After breeding the automatic cell harvesting follows and freezing for a safe transport. Then, the finished product is sent to the corresponding clinic that has ordered the cells.

On 20 and 21 January there was the kick-off meeting of the European project "Autostem" in Dublin. For implementation, the EU provides the project with a total of 6 million euros.