AABB CellSource - April 2015

 
AN UPDATE ON CELL THERAPY NEWS FROM AABB
April 2015

IN THE NEWS

Abstract Submission for 2015 AABB Annual Meeting Is Open

AABB is inviting researchers to submit abstracts for the 2015 Annual Meeting, to be held Oct. 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif. Submissions from both members and non-members are welcome in a number of scientific and administrative categories, including topics in cellular therapies. Abstracts must be submitted online no later than Wednesday, May 6 at noon ET. Individuals whose abstracts are accepted will be notified by July 1.

National Blood Foundation CT Grant Recipient Publishes in Immunity

Dr. Jianhua Yu, a 2012 NBF grant recipient, published work on the transcription factors involved in a regulatory pathway relevant to controlling natural killer, or NK, cell development and effector functions. Transcription factors play an important role in regulating the expression of genes involved in functions such as cell growth, proliferation and differentiation. Data from the NK study demonstrate that a specific Foxo transcription factor, Foxo1, represents a novel negative regulatory element or checkpoint in NK cell differentiation and function and provides a new avenue to target NK cells for viral clearance and tumor surveillance based on Foxo1 activity.

The 13th International Cord Blood Symposium Registration Is Open

The 13th International Cord Blood Symposium, or ICBS, to be held June 11-13 in San Francisco, CA will bring together the leaders and experts in the areas of stem cell transplantation, regenerative medicine, cellular therapies and cord blood banking. The symposium, presented by AABB, will provide networking opportunities and feature a robust scientific program. Symposium highlights include a debate on outcomes from competing graft sources and a discussion on the economics of cord blood transplants. AABB will offer a pre-conference cord blood bank assessor training on Wednesday, June 10 with professional training in auditing and assessment techniques. Registration for the symposium is via the website.

Saudi Arabia to Diversify Its Economy Through Science

Saudi Arabia is investing in science to diversify its economy and build on collaborations with Western scientists. The Attosecond Science Laboratory, a cutting edge ‘attosecond’ laser facility and first of its kind in the Arab world, recently opened in Riyadh at Arabia’s oldest and largest university — King Saud University. The laser generates ultrashort pulses of light lasting just a few billionths of a billionth of a second that can image otherwise invisible electrons as they move similarly fast within atoms. The facility will explore biomedical applications including using the laser to analyze proteins and nucleic acids in blood samples from people with cancer with the aim of finding molecular fingerprints that might diagnose cancers, predict responses to cancer therapies or future onset of a cancer.

Administrative Supplements Extending Scope of LINCS Datasheets is Available

This notice announces an opportunity to request administrative supplements to existing National Institutes of Health research grants to support generation of new data that will also advance the goals of the Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures or LINCS program. LINCS is an NIH Common Fund program that seeks to develop a network-based understanding of cellular functions and responses by cataloging changes in gene expression and other cellular processes when cells are exposed to a variety of perturbing agents and using computational tools to integrate this information into a comprehensive view of normal and disease states. The LINCS data is a growing community resource and these supplements will support generation of new data and signatures, in collaboration with LINCS Centers, with a focus on broadening the applicability or relevance of LINCS data to scientific communities.

AABB Premiers Online Portal With Standards for Cellular Therapy Services, 7th Edition

AABB announced its standards portal, which will serve as a gateway that provides new and easier ways to access not only standards, but curated content, reference materials and other information. The first set of standards available through this platform is the Standards for Cellular Therapy Services, 7th edition. The standards portal offers a number of features to improve the user experience including customized views, filters and a search function that allows users to search by standard number, phrase, and key word. Information can be accessed by chapter, parent standard and heading. Guidance to standards will be regularly updated. A complimentary trial is available.

Upcoming Joint AABB/ASBMT Audioconference on Optimizing Mobilization Strategies

A joint program, “Optimizing Mobilization Strategies” to be held on Sept. 2 with the American Society for Bone Marrow and Transplantation, will discuss recent advances in the understanding of the biology of hematologic progenitor cell mobilization, the pros and cons of different mobilization regimens and the practical implications of the different mobilization strategies for patients and the transplant center. There will be emphasis on the development of new mobilization agents and different processes to manage mobilization at transplant centers.

REGULATORY AND GOVERNMENT UPDATE

AABB Posts Updated DHQ-HPC for Cord Blood, Apheresis and Marrow Donors

AABB’s Interorganizational DHQ-HPC Task Force has updated Donor History Questionnaire materials on HPC, Apheresis and Marrow and HPC, Cord Blood. The task force removed references to named sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, other than syphilis in question 21 on both questionnaires. Users are advised that the corresponding flowcharts are not identical and that the Cord Blood Flowchart retains follow-up questions regarding other specific STDs. The task force also clarified the language in the User Instructions on the determination of donor eligibility — including situations in which eligibility determination is incomplete — and enhanced the Purpose section. Additional changes to the flowcharts include the addition of new definitions and deferral criteria from the August 2014 guidance document, “Recommendations for Donor Questioning, Deferral, Reentry and Product Management to Reduce the Risk of Transfusion-Transmitted Malaria.” Other edits were made to provide clarity, specificity and consistency across the documents. Charts detailing the changes made to each set are available on the AABB website.

RESEARCH FOCUS

Expansion Microscopy Explained

MIT researchers show in a video, how cells can be made to look bigger by physically enlarging specimens. By using media, in this case the material that absorbs liquid in baby diapers, cells can be ‘inflated’ or made to appear larger and studied using standard conventional microscopy. The video is based on a study by E Boyden et al., appearing in the journal “Science.”

Cord Blood Stem Cell Safety Study Tests Unwashed Cryopreserved UCB Cells

In their study, S Peral et al., demonstrated that autologous umbilical cord blood, or UCB-MNCs, can be safely collected and surgically delivered in a pediatric setting. The safety profile establishes the foundation for cell-based therapy directed at the right ventricle of juvenile hearts and aims to accelerate cell-based therapies toward clinical trials for congenital heart disease. The primary endpoint of this preclinical large animal study was to determine the safety profile of autologous UCB-MNCs with intramyocardial delivery during an open chest procedure. The cell-based and placebo products were thawed at 37°C at the surgery room and directly injected into the myocardium without a washing step leaving the 10% vol/vol DMSO cryoprotectant in the product as it was delivered into the myocardium. The justification for this procedure was to allow the most consistent and reproducible delivery at the time of anticipated clinical trials.

Healthy Fat Tissue Could be Key to Reversing Diabetes

Specialized immune cells, called regulatory T cells, or Tregs, play a key role in controlling inflammation in fat tissue and maintaining insulin sensitivity. When Treg numbers are reduced, inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can occur. Fat tissues of obese people have lower numbers of Tregs than fat tissues of people in a healthy weight range. A Vasanthakumar et al., found they could 'reverse' type 2 diabetes in laboratory models by dampening the inflammatory response in fat tissue by identifying the environmental cues for the development of FOXp3+ Tregs. The research team discovered a key hormone called interleukin-33, or IL33, was able to selectively boost Treg populations in fat tissue, effectively halting the development of type 2 diabetes, or even reversing the disease in preclinical models. Treatments that mimic IL-33 could have the potential to reduce obesity-related inflammation and type 2 diabetes.

Real-time Live Assessment of Blood Formation—A Model to Observe Development of Stem Cells Into Mature Blood Cells in Living Organisms

In the bone marrow, blood stem cells give rise to a large variety of mature blood cells via progenitor cells at various stages of maturation. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center, or DKFZ, have developed a way to equip mouse blood stem cells with a fluorescent marker. Using this tool, they were able to observe, for the first time, how stem cells mature into blood cells under normal conditions in a living organism. With these data, they developed a mathematical model of the dynamics of hematopoiesis. The researchers reported in the journal “Nature” that the normal process of blood formation differs from what had previously been assumed based on data from stem cell transplantations.

Transfusion News Video Describes Biosimilar Granulocyte-Colony-Stimulating Factor

“Biosimilars” are generic, biological drugs that are not identical to the original. Biosimilar Granulocyte-Colony-Stimulating Factor or G-CSF has been used to treat and prevent neutropenia and to mobilize CD34+ peripheral blood stem cells from donors. A group of Italian researchers examined data on pediatric hematology-oncology patients who received biosimilar G-CSF for peripheral blood stem cell mobilization and compared them to reference data from the original drug. The data showed no difference between the two drugs in healthy donors and no major side effects from the biosimilar product. Although the data for the biosimilar G-CSF is encouraging, several organizations discourage the use of biosimilar G-CSFs for mobilization of stem cells in healthy donors until more data on safety and efficacy is available.

Pre-Exposure of Human Adipose MSCs to Soluble Factors Enhances Their Homing to Brain Cancer

Mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, are a promising vehicle for therapeutic delivery. Their tropism for brain injury and brain tumors, lack of immunogenicity and ability to breach the blood-brain barrier make them an attractive treatment for brain disorders, including brain cancer. C Smith et al., report a cell culture-based approach to enhance human adipose-derived MSC, or hAMSC, engraftment to brain tumors using micro- and nanotechnological tools to systematically model several steps in the putative homing process. By pre-exposing hAMSCs to glioma-conditioned media and the extracellular matrix proteins fibronectin and laminin, the researchers achieved enhancements of the individual homing steps in vitro confirmed by an in vivo rodent model of brain cancer. This approach provides a novel method to enhance stem cell homing to gliomas and, potentially, other neurological disorders.

New Self-Healing Gel for Drug Delivery

Gels are used to deliver drugs to treat a variety of diseases because they can be molded into specific shapes and designed to release efficacious materials over a specified time period. Current versions of gels are not always practical because they must be implanted surgically. However, MIT chemical engineers have designed a new type of self-healing hydrogel that can be injected through a syringe. Such gels, which can carry one or two drugs at a time, could be useful for treating cancer, macular degeneration or heart disease, among other diseases. A potential application for the gels is delivering growth factors to help repair damaged heart tissue following a heart attack. The researchers also are pursuing the possibility of using these gels to deliver cancer drugs to destroy tumor cells remaining after surgery, thereby preventing these cells from forming new tumors. The gel would be loaded with chemicals that lure cancer cells toward it, and then release chemotherapeutic drugs to destroy them.

EVENTS, OPPORTUNITIES, RESOURCES

CT AABB Audioconferences and Webinars

Upcoming 2015 CT audioconference programs:

06/03 Donor Medical History Interview for HCT/PS (#154860)
09/02 Optimizing Mobilization Strategies (#154865)
11/18 Using Competency Assessments to Assure Quality (#154867)

2015 CT Webinar Schedule:

05/07 Survey of New Applications: Experiences with the Spectra Optia, Terumo BCT Quantum and Miltenyi Prodigy (#1514)
07/23 Funding Strategies for Cord Blood Banks (#1515)
08/06 Technical Topic Medley-How Cellular Therapy Facilities Handle Daily Occurrences and Quality Issues with the Available Resources (#1516)
08/20 Workload Justification and Staffing (#1517)
09/24 Topical Application and Bio-printing of Cells for Regenerative Medicine Applications (#1518)
10/01 Platelet Rich Plasma in Regenerative Medicine (#1519)
10/15 Supplier Quality Agreements for Cellular Therapy Products (#1521)

A complete listing of past 2014-2015 educational events is available for purchase by visiting the website.

2nd Edition of HSC Transplantation Handbook for Clinicians Available

The second edition of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: A Handbook for Clinicians is available in the AABB Marketplace. This edition features an enhanced educational trainee experience with new chapters on nonmalignant diseases, haploidentical transplants, photopheresis and health care financial considerations.

PEP Mentoring Programs for Young Professionals

Looking for a way to get involved in AABB that may help to directly influence and inspire someone entering the cell therapy field? Consider an AABB Professional Engagement Program mentoring opportunity. An informal, six-month mentoring program matches experienced professionals with those who are new to the field. Expand your professional network and exchange information and ideas while building lasting friendships. To request information and/or apply complete an application and send it to PEP@aabb.org.

FOR MEMBERS ONLY

The Latest Updates on CT Subsection Activities

Members of the AABB Center for Cellular Therapies’ subsections meet regularly via teleconferences and participate in interactive activities including the development of tools and reference materials. The materials or “projects” produced by the subsections are located on the AABB Center for Cellular Therapies Web page under the tab “Section Resources.” Subsections hosting recent activities:

Cord Blood: This subsection created a video “Umbilical Cord Blood Collection from Good to Great” narrated by Linda L. Kluge that describes how this precious resource is collected. In addition to Ms. Kluge, other principle members of the production team included Nicole Waidman (Stemsoft Software) and Gwen Epstein BSc, RT (Insception Lifebank Cord Blood Program).

Regulatory Affairs: This subsection hosted several presentations including “Interpreting the Cord Blood DHQ: A Donor Perspective” by Ed Brindle MSc, MLT(CMLTO) of Insception Lifebank and “The Most Common AABB CT Non-conformances Based on the Standards for Cellular Therapy Services 6th Edition” presented by Karen Whilden MT(ASCP)SBB, CQA(ASQ) of AABB.

CT Management: This subsection created a document on “Improving User Engagement in Webinars” that lists tips on getting the most out of this online communication tool.

Novel Therapies and CT Product Development: Jo-Anna Reems, PhD, of the University of Utah presented on “Amnion and Amniotic Fluid for Wound Healing.” There were a variety of journal article discussions on mesenchymal stromal cells.

A mesenchymal stromal cells or MSC work group within this subsection was formed. MSCs offer promise as future immunotherapies. Substantial challenges to broad translation of MSC therapies to the clinic exist, particularly due to MSC heterogeneity. MSCs are morphologically and functionally poorly characterized, in terms of secretion of paracrine factors, homing, interactions with host cells and immunomodulation potential. Data are difficult to compare due to variations in donors, cell preparation methods and isolation and expansion techniques. A clearer understanding of the real clinical potential of MSCs is needed. If you are interested participating in the work group, led by Richard Schaefer, MD, of the German Red Cross, Frankfurt-Mainz, please enroll in the Novel Therapies and CT Product Development subsection and learn how you can become a member of the work group.

CT Product Collection and Clinical Practices: The work of the Alliance for the Harmonisation of Cellular Therapy Accreditation and its “Transfusion” publication on training practices for apheresis and cord blood collection staff was presented by Christina Celluzzi PhD, MS of AABB. This work also was presented on the Asia Pacific Group subsection.

Asia Pacific Group, or APG: This subsection, set up to specifically accommodate members in the Asia Pacific time zones, has been expanding its discussions to bring awareness to a variety of topics including unique challenges encountered by those working in the region. APG meets via telephone on the second Wednesday of each month at 0400 UTC (universal coordinated time). Interested individuals are encouraged to enroll.

 

Editor: Christina Celluzzi;
Contributors: Kathy Loper and Jacqlyn Riposo

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