New freezing procedure increases availability of cord blood stem cell transplants for patients

February 7, 2013 Group News

A large enough number of stem cells are needed to ensure the success of a cord blood transplant. However, the quantity of stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood is not always sufficient to meet that requirement. Researchers from the Etablissement Français du Sang, Aquitaine-Limousin (France) have established a method to multiply cord blood stem cells to required quantity levels. In the current study Dr. Ivanovic and co-workers (Etablissement Français du Sang Aquitaine-Limousin) and a team of Cryo-Save researchers have demonstrated that these cultured stem cells can be frozen and thawed without negatively affecting the quality of the stem cells. An important step towards successful stem cell transplants in patients for whom too few stem cells are available.

Umbilical cord blood stem cells for cell transplants
The umbilical cord blood is a storehouse of stem cells. These are special because they can develop into many kinds of different human cells including blood, nerve and skin cells. This potentiality is already being put to use in the treatment of various grave illnesses, including certain types of leukemia.

Stem cell therapy demands sufficient quantities of stem cells
In some cases the number of stem cells that is isolated from the umbilical cord is too small for a transplant. A double cord blood unit transplantation and combination treatment of umbilical cord and bone marrow cells offers possible solutions. Isolating bone marrow stem cells is, however, a very painful procedure for the patient and finding a proper donor might prove difficult.

Multiplying, freezing and thawing high-quality stem cells
Researchers at the Etablissement Français du Sang, Aquitaine-Limousin (France) are now able to multiply isolated stem cells until the required quantity is obtained. This means that an optimal freeze/thaw procedure is essential if the multiplied cells are to be administered to a patient at a later stage.

Scientists at Cryo-Save collaborated on a study to determine under what specific conditions multiplied hematopoietic stem cells should be frozen so that they may be successfully recovered after thawing and used in a transplant later on with a guarantee of quality and high chance of engraftment. Newly developed cryopreservation technique performed better in recovery of expanded stem cells when comparing to standard cryoprotectants. The expansion/freeze/thaw procedure results in sufficient umbilical cord blood stem cells for a single cell transplant increasing cord blood availability for patients and reducing the cost of treatment when double unit transplantation is considered.

Currently ongoing clinical testing of this procedure is the next major step towards development of standard protocol for cord blood expansion.

The research team at Cryo-Save remains committed to finding the optimal conditions for using cord blood stem cells in stem cell therapy with a view to curing patients.

More information

For more information, contact Ann Van Gysel, Communications Manager, Cryo-Save AG., +41 55 222 02 56

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