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Process monitoring and control using live cell imaging for the manufacturing of cell therapies

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posted on 14.10.2014, 11:52 by David Smith
Regenerative medicine (RM) represents a promising enabling technology to revolutionize healthcare. This said there are still major gaps between the commercial promise and the reality of the cell therapy sector of regenerative medicine. There is consensus to develop high through-put, automated technologies for the manufacture of RM products. Imaging methods will have the capacity to contribute to this technological gap for cell therapies and are particularly attractive to provide non-destructive monitoring with high spatial and temporal resolution. This work applied an automated, non-invasive phase contrast imaging platform (Cell-IQ) to measure, analyse and ultimately quantify image derived metrics for human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) as part of the colony forming unit (CFU) assay. This work has shown through thresholding and machine vision identification technology, imaging has the ability to improve the precision of current evaluation methods for cell culture, providing novel information regarding culture state and show image derived metrics to be predictive of future culture state. Building on this, differentiation through the addition of a growth factor cocktail highlighted how in-process monitoring enables protocol optimisation. After equilibrating the Cell-IQ incubator to a standard incubator, the progress of the CFU assay was monitored and image metrics representative of colony phenotype were analysed. Cell count, distance between cells and cell migration within individual colonies were identified to be informative and provide a degree of colony phenotype separation. Quantitative, novel, image derived metrics were identified that improve reliability through computer automation, cost by removing user verification and time by reducing the assay time from 14 days to 7 days. Non-invasive imaging provides a fantastic opportunity to create bespoke sampling frequencies to achieve desired precision for manufacturing cell therapies, this work has developed and shown improvement and a level of control to current culture process for ESCs and HSCs.


EPSRC, CM-Technology



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© David Smith

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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