The team has developed the technique to remove dead cells from cell cultures used to make protein-based drugs, which are expensive to make with high costs resulting from the time-consuming and labour-intensive nature of developing them.
Scientists have streamlined this process using magnetic beads coated with special antibodies that bind to dead cells without harming the remaining healthy cells.
A magnet is then used to draw the dead cells out, leaving the living cells to produce beneficial proteins more effectively.
"We are essentially mimicking what happens in the body when scavenger cells remove dead and abnormal cells. If the dead cells are not removed, then this affects how healthy cells behave," said Professor Chris Gregory, of the University's Centre for Inflammation Research.
"Not only will this make the production of drugs more efficient, but it will also streamline research into new medicines which use cell culture," he added.
The research team has found that removing dead cells can increase productivity of cell cultures by more than 100 per cent. The method replaces lengthy and potentially damaging methods of cell removal, such as spinning cultures around at high speeds, which can traumatise healthy cells, and could also have implications for vaccine development and stem cell research.