Anthony Nolan has announced a collaboration with biotech firm Plasticell to make stem cell transplants from umbilical cords more effective.
Cord blood is used in over 110 UK transplants per year, and has a number of advantages over transplants from an unrelated adult donor. Because it is collected and banked, it is available immediately for patients in urgent need of a transplant. The stem cells in cord blood are less mature and can adapt to suit a wider range of tissue types, so can be a lifeline for people with unusual tissue types and no match on the donor register.
However, the limited number of stem cells available in a single cord blood unit limits their use to paediatric patients. The partnership between Plasticell and Anthony Nolan will focus on developing a technique to expand cord blood stem cells so that they contain enough cells for a successful transplant.
“Despite our success in connecting donors and recipients through the Anthony Nolan stem cell register, we currently can’t find a suitable match for some of the patients waiting for a stem cell transplant. We see Plasticell’s expanded cord blood product as an exciting opportunity to save the lives of these patients and to improve the treatment outcome for many more blood cancer patients,” said Dr Diana Hernandez, Head of Immunotherapy at Anthony Nolan.
Dr Yen Choo, founder and Executive Chairman of Plasticell, said, “The partnership with Anthony Nolan and its network of transplant centres and surgeons will accelerate clinical translation of this therapy by providing world-class clinical expertise, access to cord blood banking and experience in cord blood manipulation, and importantly will greatly facilitate patient recruitment which can be a bottleneck in clinical development of expanded cord blood products.”
To learn more about cord blood transplants, click here.