Manufacture of a human mesenchymal stem cell population using an automated cell culture platform

Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine are rapidly developing fields that use cells or cell based constructs as therapeutic products for a wide range of clinical applications. Efforts to commercialise these therapies are driving a need for capable, scaleable, manufacturing technologies to ensure therapies are able to meet regulatory requirements and are economically viable at industrial scale production. We report the first automated expansion of a human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cell population (hMSCs) using a fully automated cell culture platform. Differences in cell population growth profile, attributed to key methodological differences, were observed between the automated protocol and a benchmark manual protocol. However, qualitatively similar cell output, assessed by cell morphology and the expression of typical hMSC markers, was obtained from both systems. Furthermore, the critical importance of minor process variation, e.g. the effect of cell seeding density on characteristics such as population growth kinetics and cell phenotype, was observed irrespective of protocol type. This work highlights the importance of careful process design in therapeutic cell manufacture and demonstrates the potential of automated culture for future optimisation and scale up studies required for the translation of regenerative medicine products from the laboratory to the clinic.