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  • Wharton Cells

Quantum® Cell Expansion System - How Does it Work?

The Quantum® cell expansion platform is an automated, scalable, closed culturing system that enables the efficient, and safe cultivation of consistent cell populations. Quantum® technology has been demonstrated to yield commercial volumes of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with significantly less time and materials than conventional flask-based cultures.

Quantum® technology

Quantum® technology relies on a hollow fiber design; inside the bioreactor are thousands of semi-permeable capillary membranes arranged in parallel, maximizing the surface area on which cells can grow while simultaneously limiting the volume of media required for culture. Additionally, the Quantum® system is a bench-top bioreactor, representing significant space savings. These features contribute to reduced processing times and reduced costs.

The Quantum® covers all cell culture processes, including seeding, feeding, passaging, incubation, harvest, and media and waste management, making it complete solution from start to finish. These parameters can also be controlled computationally, reducing operator involvement, time, and contamination risk. These functions can be adjusted depending on the monitored conditions inside the bioreactor, for example, glucose and lactate levels could help to inform the feeding requirements.

A stainless steel bioreactor
The Quantum® bioreactor system is a fully closed cell expansion system

Increased Efficiency with the Quantum® Platform

A comparative study demonstrated that the Quantum® expansion system produced a higher number of MSCs more quickly than cells expanded in flasks1. After 3-5 passages, the average yield in flasks was 2.9×108 MSCs, with an average final time-to-final harvest of 29.8 days. In contrast, the average yield in the Quantum® bioreactor 6.6×108 MSCs, with an average time-to-final harvest of 20.5 days, representing a significant increase in manufacturing efficiency (1).

The Quantum® Platform in MSC Production

Among the applications of the Quantum® bioreactor, the culture of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is the most documented. The Quantum® platform has been used in laboratories across the world, including the United Kingdom (2), United States (1,3,4), Denmark (5,6), Belgium (7), Czech Republic (8), and Germany (9–11). These studies reach the same conclusion: the Quantum® bioreactor is an efficient platform for the culture and expansion of MSCs, and the cells produced are comparable to those expanded in flask-based cultures.

Most recently, researchers at Keele University have used the Quantum® bioreactor to study the therapeutic properties of umbilical cord derived MSCs (UC-MSCs) in the treatment of inflammatory conditions (2).

The Quantum® platform was used to facilitate large-scale manufacturing of these therapeutic cells, allowing developers to achieve more cost-effective production. These advances can result in more accessible treatments for patients across the world.


1. Hanley, P. J. et al. Efficient manufacturing of therapeutic mesenchymal stromal cells with the use of the Quantum Cell Expansion System. Cytotherapy 16, 1048–1058 (2014). doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2014.01.417

2. Mennan, C., Garcia, J., Roberts, S., Hulme, C. & Wright, K. A comprehensive characterisation of large-scale expanded human bone marrow and umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cell Res. Ther. 10, (2019). doi: 10.1186/s13287-019-1202-4.

3. Jones, M. et al. Genetic stability of bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stromal cells in the Quantum System. Cytotherapy 15, 1323–1339 (2013). doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2013.05.024.

4. Russell, A. L., Lefavor, R. C. & Zubair, A. C. Characterization and cost–benefit analysis of automated bioreactor-expanded mesenchymal stem cells for clinical applications. Transfusion 58, 2374–2382 (2018). doi: 10.1111/trf.14805.

5. Haack-Sørensen, M. et al. Development of large-scale manufacturing of adipose-derived stromal cells for clinical applications using bioreactors and human platelet lysate. Scand. J. Clin. Lab. Invest. 78, 293–300 (2018). doi: 10.1080/00365513.2018.1462082.

6. Kastrup, J. et al. Cryopreserved Off-the-Shelf Allogeneic Adipose-Derived Stromal Cells for Therapy in Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease and Heart Failure—A Safety Study. Stem Cells Transl. Med. 6, 1963–1971 (2017). doi: 10.1002/sctm.17-0040.

7. Lambrechts, T. et al. Large-scale progenitor cell expansion for multiple donors in a monitored hollow fibre bioreactor. Cytotherapy 18, 1219–1233 (2016).

8. Vymetalova, L. et al. Large-Scale Automated Hollow-Fiber Bioreactor Expansion of Umbilical Cord-Derived Human Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for Neurological Disorders. Neurochem. Res. 45, 204–214 (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2016.05.013

9. Nold, P., Brendel, C., Neubauer, A., Bein, G. & Hackstein, H. Good manufacturing practice-compliant animal-free expansion of human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stroma cells in a closed hollow-fiber-based bioreactor. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 430, 325–330 (2013). doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.11.001.

10. Rojewski, M. T. et al. GMP-compliant isolation and expansion of bone marrow-derived MSCs in the closed, automated device quantum cell expansion system. Cell Transplant. 22, 1981–2000 (2013). doi: 10.3727/096368912X657990.

11. Barckhausen, C. et al. GMP-compliant expansion of clinical-grade human mesenchymal stromal/stem cells using a closed hollow fiber bioreactor. in Methods in Molecular Biology vol. 1416 389–412 (Humana Press Inc., 2016). doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3584-0_23.

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