GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company, and Saneron, a biotechnology research and development (R&D) company, have announced an R&D agreement to optimise GE Healthcare's Ficoll-Paque for the isolation of stem cells from umbilical cord blood. This cell population contains stem cells with the potential to be used to treat more than 80 malignant, genetic and acquired diseases, such as leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and immunodeficiency.
"Umbilical cord blood is playing an increasingly important role in the use of cell therapy in the successful treatment of human disease," said Nigel Darby, vice president of research and development, Protein Separations at GE Healthcare. "Saneron and GE Healthcare are working together to provide a solution for a sterile density medium manufactured under GMP conditions to meet the growing need for processing umbilical cord blood so that it may be used in cell therapy,"
Ficoll-Paque, a sterile density medium, has been used for 30 years to isolate high yields of mononuclear cells from peripheral blood and bone marrow. However, the cell composition in umbilical cord blood, being significantly different from peripheral blood and bone marrow demands different separation characteristics. According to the announcement, the version of Ficoll-Paque which is being developed by GE Healthcare and Saneron at GE's Global Research Centre in Niskayuna, NY, tested at Saneron's facilities at the University of South Florida's research park, will specifically process stem cells from umbilical cord blood. The new Ficoll-Paque will be manufactured under GMP standards, the report outlines, and the final product will be commercialised by GE Healthcare. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Saneron has developed a proprietary processing technique for the isolation of a heterogeneous population of cells from umbilical cord blood that has shown promising results in preclinical studies of stroke, myocardial infarction, spinal cord injury, and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The cell separation media from GE Healthcare already provides exceptional gradient separation of cells and the new version of Ficoll-Paque will be extremely valuable to Saneron in the completion of proof of principle studies prior to the initiation of future clinical trials," said Dr. Cyndy Davis Sanberg, vice president of research, Saneron. "This represents an important milestone in Saneron's cord blood stem cell processing."