A new AI project involving Irish start-up Valitacell and the CeADAR centre could have lasting impacts for the health sector.

Enterprise Ireland and the European Union have backed an Irish-led project using artificial intelligence (AI) to power the future of stem cell manufacturing.

The three-year project, entitled ‘DeepStain: Deep Learning for Cell Image Analysis’ hopes to accelerate an area of drug development which is at the root of many diseases.

“This will help translate stem cells from being a niche experimental therapy into a treatment available to patients worldwide”

DeepStain is part of a strategic partnership between Valitacell, an award-winning Irish biotechnology company and CeADAR, Ireland’s Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence.

The project has received €242,000 funding from Enterprise Ireland and the EU under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Co-Fund Scheme, which is part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.

Matching talent and skills

This innovative programme matches top talent and skills from around the world with the research needs of enterprises in Ireland.

The DeepStain project will use Artificial Intelligence to quickly analyse images of stem cells to determine their quality and make stem cell manufacturing more efficient. 

The core team is composed of Dr. Ricardo Simon Carbajo (CeADAR), Dr. Paul Dobson (Valitacell) and Dr. Polat Göktaş (CeADAR & Valitacell), and builds on previous work and interdisciplinary expertise.

“AI can massively help to improve the Biopharma value chain. In this project, we will be applying the latest techniques in computer vision to speed up the process of manufacturing stem cells,” Dr Carbajo explained.

“We are delighted to partner with Valitacell as they are truly innovating in this area and we can produce a real impact in society.”

Stem cells have the potential to treat many conditions including cancer, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease, yet they can be hard to manufacture. This is because monitoring stem cell quality involves a lot of slow and difficult laboratory work.

“Working with CeADAR will help Valitacell leverage the power of deep learning to create better bioprocess analytical technologies to support stem cell therapy manufacturing,” said Dr Paul Dobson, head of Data at Valitacell.

“This will help translate stem cells from being a niche experimental therapy into a treatment available to patients worldwide.”

Main image: Close-up of stem cells from the DeepStain project

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 17 February 2021

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