Advances in stem cell research and recent work on clinical trials employing stem cells have heightened the prospect of stem cell applications in regenerative medicine. The eventual clinical application of stem cells will require transforming cell production from laboratory practices to robust processes. Most stem cell applications will require extensive ex vivo handling of cells, from isolation, cultivation, and directed differentiation to product cell separation, cell derivation, and final formulation. Some applications require large quantities of cells in each defined batch for clinical use in multiple patients; others may be for autologous use and require only small-scale operations. All share a common requirement: the production must be robust and generate cell products of consistent quality. Unlike the established manufacturing process of recombinant protein biologics, stem cell applications will likely see greater variability in their cell source and more fluctuations in product quality. Nevertheless, in devising stem cell-based bioprocesses, much insight could be gained from the manufacturing of biological materials, including recombinant proteins and anti-viral vaccines. The key to process robustness is thus not only the control of traditional process chemical and physical variables, but also the sustenance of cells in the desired potency or differentiation state through controlling non-traditional variables, such as signaling pathway modulators.
- Cell culture
- Stem cells