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J Clin Invest. 2019 Nov 12. pii: 131187. doi: 10.1172/JCI131187. [Epub ahead of print]

Deep learning predicts function of live retinal pigment epithelium from quantitative microscopy.


Increases in the number of cell therapies in the preclinical and clinical phases have prompted the need for reliable and non-invasive assays to validate transplant function in clinical biomanufacturing. We developed a robust characterization methodology composed of quantitative bright-field absorbance microscopy (QBAM) and deep neural networks (DNNs) to non-invasively predict tissue function and cellular donor identity. The methodology was validated using clinical-grade induced pluripotent stem cell derived retinal pigment epithelial cells (iPSC-RPE). QBAM images of iPSC-RPE were used to train DNNs that predicted iPSC-RPE monolayer transepithelial resistance, predicted polarized vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion, and matched iPSC-RPE monolayers to the stem cell donors. DNN predictions were supplemented with traditional machine learning algorithms that identified shape and texture features of single cells that were used to predict tissue function and iPSC donor identity. These results demonstrate non-invasive cell therapy characterization can be achieved with QBAM and machine learning.


Ophthalmology; Stem cell transplantation

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