Cell-based therapies have generated great interest in the scientific and medical communities, and stem cells in particular are very appealing for regenerative medicine, drug screening and other biomedical applications. These unspecialized cells have unlimited self-renewal capacity and the remarkable ability to produce mature cells with specialized functions, such as blood cells, nerve cells or cardiac muscle. However, the actual number of cells that can be obtained from available donors is very low. One possible solution for the generation of relevant numbers of cells for several applications is to scale-up the culture of these cells in vitro. This review describes recent developments in the cultivation of stem cells in bioreactors, particularly considerations regarding critical culture parameters, possible bioreactor configurations, and integration of novel technologies in the bioprocess development stage. We expect that this review will provide updated and detailed information focusing on the systematic production of stem cell products in compliance with regulatory guidelines, while using robust and cost-effective approaches. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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