In recent years, the potential of stem cell research for tissue engineering-based therapies and regenerative medicine clinical applications has become well established. In 2006, Chung pioneered the first entire organ transplant using adult stem cells and a scaffold for clinical evaluation. With this a new milestone was achieved, with seven patients with myelomeningocele receiving stem cell-derived bladder transplants resulting in substantial improvements in their quality of life. While a bladder is a relatively simple organ, the breakthrough highlights the incredible benefits that can be gained from the cross-disciplinary nature of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) that encompasses stem cell research and stem cell bioprocessing. Unquestionably, the development of bioprocess technologies for the transfer of the current laboratory-based practice of stem cell tissue culture to the clinic as therapeutics necessitates the application of engineering principles and practices to achieve control, reproducibility, automation, validation and safety of the process and the product. The successful translation will require contributions from fundamental research (from developmental biology to the 'omics' technologies and advances in immunology) and from existing industrial practice (biologics), especially on automation, quality assurance and regulation. The timely development, integration and execution of various components will be critical-failures of the past (such as in the commercialization of skin equivalents) on marketing, pricing, production and advertising should not be repeated. This review aims to address the principles required for successful stem cell bioprocessing so that they can be applied deftly to clinical applications.
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