New York Blood Center (NYBC) today announced a new collaboration with the University of California, Davis, Health System to manufacture specialized lines of stem cells as potential therapies for repair and regeneration of retina, kidney, lung and liver tissue, as well as for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.
The new collaboration, through NYBC's Milstein Cord Blood Center, is funded by the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation. The initiative, which brings together the resources and knowledge of two leading institutions in stem cell research, will be led by Dr. Pablo Rubinstein, Vice President of NYBC and Program Director of the National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) at the Milstein Cord Blood Center, and Dr. Jan Nolta, Director of the UC Davis Stem Cell Program and the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures.
Under the two-year agreement, UC Davis will produce induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from homozygous units from New York Blood Center's umbilical cord blood bank. Cord blood units contain adult stem cells collected from umbilical cord blood donations after the birth and safe delivery of a baby. NYBC's rare collection of homozygous units presents a unique opportunity to make iPSC lines that will be capable of making any human tissue and being matched to a large number of people. This will allow for vast new opportunities for future clinical use.
"It is with great pride that we announce this wonderful collaboration," said Howard P. Milstein, Chairman of the Board of New York Blood Center. "This partnership signals the next step in the advancement of regenerative medicine, which has already saved thousands of lives worldwide, with the potential to save many millions more."
"Regenerative medicine is the next frontier of medical science," Mr. Milstein added. "It will ultimately give doctors the ability to repair or replace every major organ in the human body."
"What is exciting about this collaboration is that we are working on therapeutic stem cells whose genetic make-up may avoid the problem of transplant immune rejection and thus could benefit many patients of different ages, sexes and racial groups," said Nolta. "Using our Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility, we will manufacture stem cell lines that can be used as source material to develop new treatments for previously untreatable diseases and conditions."
Nolta added: "NYBC's accomplishments in creating and nurturing cord blood banking were made possible through its long tradition of innovation in medical biotechnology, thanks to the outstanding dedication of Dr. Rubinstein and his staff, the commitment of NYBC's president, Dr. Christopher Hillyer, and the visionary leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Howard Milstein."
With an ability to repair damaged tissue and develop into specialized cells and organs, stem cells will have a major impact in medicine and health care. This translation of basic scientific discoveries into novel therapies and clinical practices is a hallmark of research at UC Davis. The university's Stem Cell Program and its Institute for Regenerative Cures (a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine) bring together resources from across the university to ensure that bench research—the work done in laboratories—can be translated successfully into clinical treatments.
NYBC Stem Cells Offer Unique Opportunities For Successful Treatment
Starting with the largest public cord blood repository in the nation, the Milstein National Cord Blood Center has more of the very rare homozygous stem cell units than any other institution. Because each person's immune system is set up to reject things that it doesn't recognize, the NYBC's cells represent a unique opportunity in regenerative medicine, since NYBC's haploidentical cord blood units offer a way to create stem cells that look harmless to the immune systems of many people. NYBC's cord blood cells are homozygous, which means they have the same ABC alleles for the histocompatibility antigens and can be more easily matched with recipients for successful bone marrow and organ transplantations. The homozygous cord blood stem cells isolated from NYBC's frozen units will be regressed to a more "pluripotent" (primitive) state by a mixture of factors that UC Davis scientists add at their GMP facility in Sacramento. Generation of only 100 iPSC lines from homozygous cord blood units could provide a match for approximately 80 percent of Americans of European descent and 50-60 percent of the majority of other populations in the United States.