Integrated robotic platform for scalable manufacturing and development of stem cells



Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) can be generated from both healthy individuals and patients with specific diseases and allow scientists to study any type of cell in the body. This gives them tremendous potential for use in therapeutic development. However, hiPSCs are challenging to work with, as manual methods of growing them are variable and labor-intensive. Standardized processing of multiple cell lines and manufacturing various well-characterized cell types simultaneously are particularly cumbersome and inefficient for large-scale projects, such as drug screening, disease modeling, and developing cellular therapies.


IRP researchers led by Ilyas Singeç, M.D., Ph.D., established a robotic platform that automates the process of growing hiPSCs and coaxing them to transform into specialized, mature cell types like heart or liver cells. The platform is compatible with both 2D and 3D structures used for growing stem cells and is well-controlled with known components, which reduces variability in the cells it produces. This approach allows rapid and standardized manufacturing of billions of hiPSCs that can be produced in parallel from up to 90 different patient- and disease-specific cell lines. Moreover, the hiPSCs generated through this robotic process had similar properties to those grown via traditional, manual processes, further supporting the notion that industrial-scale generation of hiPSCs does not need to be limited by the manual labor of specially trained scientists.


Robotic cell culture platforms can make the production of hiPSCs and their transformation into specialized cell types more consistent, scalable, and standardized. The ability to grow hiPSCs and transform them into specialized cell types more efficiently and at a larger scale will accelerate discoveries about how specific cell types work in healthy individuals and how diseases alter the function of certain types of cells. This, in turn, will fuel the development of therapies that target the specific cellular defects caused by an illness. In addition, incorporating automation into the process will change how researchers utilize stem cells not just as a research tool, but also as a platform for creating cell-based therapies and for other applications that require growing large amounts of hiPSCs.


Tristan CA, Ormanoglu P, Slamecka J, Malley C, Chu PH, Jovanovic VM, Gedik Y, Jethmalani Y, Bonney C, Barnaeva E, Braisted J, Mallanna SK, Dorjsuren D, Iannotti MJ, Voss TC, Michael S, Simeonov A, Singeç I. (2021). Robotic high-throughput biomanufacturing and functional differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cell Rep. Dec 14;16(12):3076-3092. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2021.11.004.

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This page was last updated on Thursday, June 8, 2023