Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®) and Cellular Dynamics International (NASDAQ: ICEL) (CDI) announced today that they have entered into a research collaboration to reprogram newborn stem cells from both umbilical cord blood and umbilical cord tissue collected, processed and cryopreserved under CBR’s protocols into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using CDI’s proprietary methods.
Through this research collaboration, CBR will provide to CDI multiple de-identified, research-donated and cryopreserved umbilical cord blood units as well as multiple de-identified units of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from previously cryopreserved cord tissue. CDI will reprogram the cells into iPSCs and confirm their pluripotent nature.
iPSCs, cells that have the ability to replicate indefinitely and to differentiate into any cell type in the human body, are one of the most promising frontiers in human medicine. Once an iPSC line is created, it becomes a renewable source of starting material for differentiation into any tissue of the body. iPSCs are currently used by researchers in disease modeling, drug screening and in the early stages of cell-based therapy clinical trials. A patient-specific iPSC line would have significant potential in future cell therapies as any tissue differentiated from those iPSCs would be a perfect genetic match to the individual from whose cells the original line was created.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), like those found in umbilical cord blood, and MSCs, like those found in cord tissue, have previously been shown by researchers to be reprogrammable into iPSCs (Mack, 2011 and Cai, 2010). However, this research collaboration will be unique in that a leader in iPSC technology and the world’s largest cord blood bank have partnered to establish a workflow to allow HSCs and MSCs collected and cryopreserved at birth by CBR to be later reprogrammed into iPSCs for individuals.
“CBR is excited to enter into this research collaboration with CDI, a leader in iPSC technology,” said Geoffrey Crouse, President and CEO of CBR. “Establishing a repeatable process, by which CBR’s clients can have their newborn stem cells reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem cells, has the potential to increase the future utility of the cells we store in our bank. The stem cells our clients have stored are particularly unique as a starting material as they are collected at birth and typically undamaged by age, disease and environmental factors that may be encountered through life.”
“We look forward to applying CDI’s proprietary episomal reprogramming technique to create iPSCs from cells stored in CBR’s bank,” said Bob Palay, Chairman and CEO of CDI. “Our goal is for the families who have entrusted CBR to store newborn stem cells from more than 500,000 children to know that they can have CDI establish a line of individualized iPSCs that matches their own genetic material. Given the rate of clinical advancements in iPSCs and their capacity to differentiate into different tissues, the ability to create a pluripotent stem cell from newborn stem cells has the potential to become a very valuable resource to treat disease.”