In support of Cord Blood Awareness Month, Cryoport Systems’ partner, Be The Match BioTherapies®, led a webinar focused on the untapped potential and benefits of cord blood for prospective therapies. Cord blood is the blood that is leftover in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth, that contains life-saving stem cells with the potential to treat hematologic disorders in children and adults such as leukemia and lymphoma. Historically, the umbilical cord was discarded as medical waste, but cord blood has been used for over 30 years as one of the three cell sources for hematopoietic stem cell transplants, along with bone marrow and peripheral blood.
In addition to being a cell source for stem cell transplants, researchers explain that cord blood units (CBUs) are also a valuable and underutilized source of allogeneic starting material for new cell and gene therapies. For example, researchers have been isolating natural killer (NK) cells from cord blood for CAR-NK therapies. There are many other advantages to using CBUs as a source material because they are frozen, stored, and readily accessible. Donors that contribute to a public cord bank have already been screened and tested for eligibility, which eliminates time spent sourcing. Due to their natural age, cord blood stem cells are more immature than adult stem cells, which helps prevent mutations and the placenta shields them from direct exposure to viral and environmental pathogens.
Cord blood can be used for clinical and commercial use, as well as for non-clinical use (research only) in cell and gene therapy development. It is critical to note the difference between a licensed and unlicensed cord blood unit in clinical and commercial use. A licensed CBU meets the FDA requirements for allogeneic transplants, while the unlicensed CBU may be missing one or more specifications required in the Biologics License Application (BLA) to support allogeneic transplants. Although there are slightly more unlicensed units in the current domestic inventory, developers can benefit from both regardless of licensure to provide further availability for use in therapy development. Finding CBUs with the characteristics that developers require may differ and spread across multiple cord blood banks, but global registries such as Be The Match® provide easier access to source CBUs for non-clinical, clinical and commercial use.
Cryoport Systems is proud to partner with organizations like Be The Match BioTherapies® that value research and strive to develop innovative solutions. Using CBUs as a starting material for new cell therapies and maximizing their full potential can provide more treatment options for patients. To watch the full webinar on demand, click the button below.