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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26104. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026104. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

The use of multidimensional image-based analysis to accurately monitor cell growth in 3D bioreactor culture.

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Science and Technology Division, LGC, Teddington, Middlesex, United Kingdom.


The transition from traditional culture methods towards bioreactor based bioprocessing to produce cells in commercially viable quantities for cell therapy applications requires the development of robust methods to ensure the quality of the cells produced. Standard methods for measuring cell quality parameters such as viability provide only limited information making process monitoring and optimisation difficult. Here we describe a 3D image-based approach to develop cell distribution maps which can be used to simultaneously measure the number, confluency and morphology of cells attached to microcarriers in a stirred tank bioreactor. The accuracy of the cell distribution measurements is validated using in silico modelling of synthetic image datasets and is shown to have an accuracy >90%. Using the cell distribution mapping process and principal component analysis we show how cell growth can be quantitatively monitored over a 13 day bioreactor culture period and how changes to manufacture processes such as initial cell seeding density can significantly influence cell morphology and the rate at which cells are produced. Taken together, these results demonstrate how image-based analysis can be incorporated in cell quality control processes facilitating the transition towards bioreactor based manufacture for clinical grade cells.

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