Novel optical interferometer could monitor large-scale stem cell manufacturing
A University of Huddersfield (UK) researcher is investigating the use of a specially developed optical interferometer to monitor the production of stem cells, grown on tiny polymer spheres. Reliable, large-scale production of stem cells will be vital for their future therapeutic use
Reliable, large-scale production of stem cells is essential for regenerative cell therapies to reach the clinic. At the University of Huddersfield (UK), a researcher, Dr Haydn Martin, has been investigating the use of a specially developed optical interferometer to monitor the production of stem cells that are being grown on tiny polymer spheres.
The polymer spheres act as microcarriers and provide more surfaces for cell growth within a bioreactor. The interferometer is inserted into the growth medium to take images for ultra-precise measurement as the bioreactor is stirred, in order to maximize yield and quality. Further uses for the device could be in monitoring cell morphology.
"It is in-situ interferometry," explained Haydn Martin. “What we hope to be able to do is to monitor the confluence of the cells on the spheres - or how much of a sphere is covered by cells - because once it is covered, no more cells will grow on it."
The project was awarded £245,000 in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK). Martin is collaborating with Karen Coopman from the University of Loughborough (UK), where the first version of the interferometer was tested.
The device will now be returned to Huddersfield where further experiments will be conducted using a high-powered laser. "One of the challenges is to image the cells while they are moving," reported Martin.
– Written by Daphne Boulicault