The Cryo & Stem Cell Technology Department is made up of the working groups Cryobiotechnology, Clinical Stem Cell Technologies and Automation Processes whose joint objective is the standardization and automation of cell culture processes through the use of technological approaches or platforms in order to increase the efficiency and reproducibility of the protocols used. Fully and partially automated cell culture processes in the field of cultivation, differentiation, cryopreservation and quality assurance of therapeutically and diagnostically relevant cell systems are being developed in order to ensure the permanent availability of biological material of consistently high quality. For this purpose, microfluidic cell culture technologies, robotic platforms and mixed bioreactor systems are attuned to the specific requirements of pluripotent stem cells, such as e. g. human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSs), and existing protocols are adapted accordingly. In addition, scaffold structures made of biopolymers (e. g. alginate) are evaluated and adapted to ensure more physiological conditions for expansion and differentiation of stem cells and derived cells (e. g. cardiomyocytes). During the process steps, innovative optical methods are developed and integrated to non-invasively investigate cell behavior. Advantages of automation, miniaturization and parallelization approaches are used to achieve precise time and cost efficient screening procedures.
These new systems, based, for example, on the "hanging drop" method, allow both complete control of the microenvironment and a substantially improved reproducibility of results. The establishment of highly parallelized and automated microsystems for the multi-parameter screening of active substances for each individual cell line is a milestone for the clinical application of future stem cell and other cell therapies. For the derivation and expansion of new cell lines, the setup of novel automation pipelines and the standardization of quality control screenings, the efficient storage of cell material is essential. This is why the Cryo & Stem Cell Technology Department is extending the unique competence of the Fraunhofer IBMT in the field of cryorepository and biobank technology with the development of cutting edge freezing methods and high-performance media for the cryopreservation of therapeutically relevant cell systems.