Plasticell’s CombiCult platform expands stem cells in umbilical cord blood

Published: 23-Nov-2016

Plasticell is a biotechnology company leading the use of high throughput technologies to develop stem cell therapies

Plasticell, the leader in high throughput technology to develop stem cell therapies in regenerative medicine, has announced the publication of peer-reviewed scientific research in the journal Stem Cells and Development, which demonstrates how the company’s award-winning platform technology can be used to discover novel cell culture protocols that expand specific populations of therapeutic stem cells present in cord blood.

Haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation — the most successful and common stem cell therapy to date — is used to treat a wide variety of haematological disorders.

Banked cord blood (CB) has several advantages compared with alternative sources of HSCs, as it is readily available, tested and banked ahead of use, contains more immature HSC and is associated with fewer cases of graft versus host disease.

However, each CB unit contains too few stem cells to treat older children and adult patients — therefore methods of amplifying these rare stem cells within CB are required.

The publication describes the application of CombiCult technology to accelerate the discovery of media formulations and cell culture protocols for the in vitro expansion of HSCs without compromising their functional characteristics.

Dr Yen Choo, Executive Chairman of Plasticell, commented: “Our results demonstrate that in addition to particular combinations of growth factors, it is also the order in which they are added to the cell culture that has an effect on the expansion of HSCs. Therefore systematic searches of temporal and combinatorial variables can be used to derive optimal protocols for cell expansion."

The research was done in collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant as part of a £1.5 million project funded by a grant obtained from the Technology Strategy Board. Subsequently, the company obtained follow-on financing from Innovate UK for a further £1.7 million project aimed at progressing the most promising results to GMP manufacturing in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

The worldwide market for cord blood therapeutics is $6.5 billion. Around 25,000 allogeneic HSC transplants per year are performed worldwide of which around 4000 are CB. The cost of each HSC transplant can be up to $200,000. The use of CB has increased in recent years, and has the potential to grow even more as the number of banked units increases.

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