Aston University in the UK has received funds through the European Commission's Horizon 2020 program to aid the AUTOSTEM consortium in their stem cell research. Together with NUI Galway in Ireland, they hope to address the current challenges in manufacturing stem cells.

"Stem cell therapies have the potential to treat currently unmet patient needs and provide therapies for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson's. However, current manufacturing methods for adult stem cells are costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive, so will be unable to satisfy the expected patient demand," explains Dr. Qasim Rafiq in the release.

"Our project will develop a scalable, automated robotic system for the growth of adult stem cells, allowing us to significantly reduce the costs associated with stem cell therapies and helping improve quality of life for patients around the world.”

Robotic facility
Wikipedia / Credit: Mikael Häggström

The funds will be used to focus on developing a product that could be able to cure thousands of patients worldwide. The process includes isolating and purifying adult stem cells taken from the bone marrow, and then these stem cells are grown in bioreactors to produce the amount of healthy stem cells to be placed back in the patient's body. What's special about their facility is that the highly sterile and aseptic cleanroom will be operated by a robotic system.

Stem cell treatment has been used for several diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injuries, leukemia, and lymphoma, to name just a few.

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