A new article in Cell and Gene Therapy Insights neatly sets out the advances in procurement and storage in the umbilical cord blood and tissue bio processing field. The paper by Dr Qasim Rafiq of London's UCL, Kate Sneddon and members of Biovault Technical Ltd, a leading tissue bank in the UK, looks at regenerative medicine related to both autologous and allogeneic therapeutic applications and describes the current challenges and how these may be met to augment translation and use of therapeutics.

Cord blood and tissue banking is increasingly popular because of the stem cells they contain and the clinical research associated with such material is advancing. Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is a source of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and is clinically applied for the reconstitution of hematopoiesis. Umbilical cord tissue (UCT) contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that have been widely investigated for applications in tissue restoration and repair, and the treatment of immune mediated disorders.

UCB is defined as the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following neonatal delivery, and UCT as the cord itself. Both tissues are procured immediately after birth in a process not deleterious to mother or child. In fact, banking of these tissues may confer future health benefits to the corresponding child or immediate family as they potentially comprise an exact or partial human leukocyte antigen match, reducing complications such as graft-versus-host disease upon transplantation. Additionally, both tissues may be applied in allogeneic models; UCT MSCs are immune evasive and donor-recipient mismatches can be well tolerated in transplantation.

The potential applications of UCB HSCs and UCT MSCs in both autologous and allogeneic therapeutics has encouraged the coexistence, sometimes within the same organization, of two tissue storage models. Parents may choose to publicly bank their UCB for use for any patient, or store privately for the event of disease in the immediate family.

Over 750,000 UCB units are thought to be banked publicly worldwide, with over 4 million banked in private family storage arrangements. There are a considerable number of clinical trials concerning the application of UCT MSCs, creating demand for UCT processing strategies that maintain the viability, efficacy and safety of derived therapeutics.

The authors conclude that to elucidate strategies that are optimal with respect to cell functionality, patient outcomes and cost to be developed, UCB volume reduction, antibiotic-free bio processes, low DMSO in cryopreservation media, and improved antimicrobial strategies may aid the readiness of UCB and UCT banking.

For further information
Citation: Cell Gene Therapy Insights 2017;3(6), 489-508. Published: Aug 4 2017

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