New solution for the production of stem cells

Researchers have developed a unique 3D printed system for harvesting stem cells from bioreactors, which offers the potential for large-scale, high-quality stem cell production in Australia at a lower cost.

Stem cells show promise in treating many diseases and injuries, from arthritis and diabetes to cancer, because of their ability to replace damaged cells. However, current stem cell harvesting technology is laborious, time-consuming and expensive.

Biomedical engineer Professor Majid Warkiani from the University of Technology Sydney led the translational research and worked with industrial partner Regeneus, an Australian biotech company developing stem cell therapies to treat inflammation and pain.

“Our cutting-edge technology, which uses 3D printing and microfluidics to integrate a series of production steps into a single device, can help make stem cell therapies more widely available and cheaper for patients,” said Professor Warkiani.

“Although this system, a world first, is currently in the prototype stage, we are working closely with biotech companies to commercialize the technology. Importantly, this is a closed system with no human intervention, which is necessary for current good manufacturing practices,” he said. .

Microfluidics is the precise control of fluids at the microscopic level that can be used to manipulate cells and particles. Advances in 3D printing have enabled the direct construction of microfluidic devices, allowing rapid prototyping and the construction of integrated systems.

The new system is designed to treat mesenchymal stem cells, a type of adult stem cell that can divide and differentiate into multiple tissue cells, including bone, cartilage, muscle, fat and connective tissue.

Mesenchymal stem cells are first obtained from human bone marrow, adipose tissue or blood. They are then transferred to a bioreactor in the laboratory and combined with microcarriers so that the cells can multiply.

The new system combines four micromixers, a spiral microfluidic separator and a microfluidic concentrator to detach and separate mesenchymal stem cells from microcarriers and concentrate them for downstream processing.

Professor Warkiani said other industrial bioprocessing challenges can also be solved with the same technology and workflow, helping to reduce costs and improve the quality of a range of vital products, including stem cells and CAR-T cells .

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Materials provided by Technical University of Sydney. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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