Few methods come along that profoundly change biomedical research and lead to dramatic improvements in human health, but DNA sequencing is one of them. This and other advances in cell technology have been a huge boon for biology.
Henrietta Lacks has arguably been the most famous figure to emerge from the world of cell biology. Her immortal HeLa cells remain a key tool in cell biology, with more than 110,000 publications citing them to date. The HeLa story underscores the power of cell technology to transform lives—and science.
Embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to become any cell type in the body, have also had an important impact on biology. However, obtaining these cells requires the destruction of embryos in fertility treatments; this is a source of controversy and has led to bans on the use of human embryonic stem cells in some countries.
In addition to the need for more intensive characterization of cell-based therapies, Tyagi notes that the quality and composition/variability of the starting materials used in these processes can impact the final therapeutic or research applications. Hence, standardized and validated cell-processing methods are essential.
Maintaining aseptic conditions during longer cell expansion processes is another challenge, requiring stringent process parameters and facility design to ensure sterile conditions are maintained throughout the manufacturing cycle. In addition, scalability of adherent cell expansion is an ongoing challenge and requires the development of innovative production systems to deliver high volumes of cells in a cost-effective manner.