The EU-funded 'Self-learning modular manufacturing platform for flexible, patient-specific cell production' (MANUCYTE) project worked on developing a modular automated platform for patient-specific cell cultivation at industrial scale. The envisioned platform would consist of components such as bioreactors for cell culturing, optical monitoring plug-in for cell status recognition, incubation plug-in, handling systems and a hybrid workplace. Detailed designs and prototypes of platform components were successfully developed using a modular plug-in concept for scale-up. MANUCYTE members were largely successful with developing individual components of the system. For instance, the bioreactor prototypes were successfully integrated with sensor technologies for in-line automated monitoring of selected parameters. A notable achievement is proof-of-concept for a sterilised and cross-contamination–free bioreactor system prototype. A hybrid workplace was also designed to provide a human–machine interface using an assisting robot for the production of certain cell types. For cell biology processes, a manufacturing execution system (MES) was integrated with the laboratory information and management system. To optimise cell cultivation and determine cell status, a cell behaviour model was developed to assess the effect of process parameters based on MES measurements. MANUCYTE has laid the groundwork for development of an automated cell production platform. This could find applications in personalised medicine and production of differentiated cells for cancer and cardiovascular therapy as well as transplants. The entire MANUCYTE platform could not be completed and tested within the project duration. Issues with handler components like the gripper, and delays in developing the liquid handling system hampered the integration and testing of the complete system. However, the components developed during the project period proved useful for other commercial applications and were integrated into the product portfolio. Some examples are the mini-numerical volumetric dispenser for gluing, a module framework for 3D printing processes, and automated optical monitoring for the semiconductor and photovoltaics industries.
Cell production, platform, personalised medicine, bioreactor, automated monitoring, cell culturing, cross-contamination