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Projects supported with Cord Blood Products

The list will be updated as research projects are approved.



 

Characterization of post-thaw recovery of cord blood progenitors cryopreserved with novel recrystallization inhibitors

Project location:  Ottawa

Estimated Project Start Date: 2015-12-18

Estimated Project End Date: 2017-12-18

Description of Material and total number required to complete this research project: 20 cord blood units

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem and progenitor cells with current and future applications in regenerative medicine. The national public cord blood bank (NPCBB) collects and stores cord blood units for future stem cell transplantation. Cryopreservation is the storage of biological products at temperatures below -180 degrees Celsius. The current standard for cord blood banking is to cryopreserve cord blood units with 10% DMSO. However, DMSO is associated with a number of toxic effects. Given that the majority of cellular injury during cryopreservation is a direct result of ice growth, we hypothesize that our novel small molecule ice recrystallization inhibitors will minimize the cellular damage associated with ice growth and will result in improved cord blood unit functionality when thawed.

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Application of human NK cell therapy and the use of humanized mice to study prevention and treatment against cancer

Project location:  Hamilton

Estimated Project Start Date: 2016-01-05

Estimated Project End Date: 2017-06-30

Description of Material and total number required to complete this research project: 120 cord blood units

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Until recently, responses of the human immune system to human cancers and human specific infections, such as Hepatitis C virus, were not possible to study in a mouse model. The goal of our research is to use cord blood stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood to generate "humanized mice" which have a functional human immune system. This gives us the ability to investigate how our immune system works in a living system, against a variety of diseases which are impossible to examine at this level in humans. We aim to study both cancers, such as breast cancer and infections, such as Hepatitis C virus. Through a cell culture method established in our lab, we can produce a large number of immune system cells from a small cord blood sample. These immune cells can then be used to treat humanized mice with either tumors or infection. Ultimately, through cord blood donation, we will be able to generate humanized mice and apply what we learn to create more effective treatments to fight breast cancer and viral infection.

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Effects of radiation on cord blood-derived stem cells

Project location (town): Chalk River

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2015-09-01

Expected Project End Date: 2020-04-01

Description of material and total number required to complete this research project: 30

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Patients with hematological cancers often undergo stem cell transplantation that requires high dose chemo- or radio-therapy to kill all resident leukemic cells followed by transplantation of blood stem cells from a healthy donor. Unfortunately, 50% of patients undergoing this therapy still succumb to the disease due to leukemia re-emergence (leukemia relapse). One of the hypotheses for leukemia relapse is the existence of leukemic cells that are resistant to chemo-/radio-treatment. However, recent studies have shown that low doses of radiation can induce biological effects that promote cancer cell destruction. We propose to study whether low doses of radiation given to patients prior to chemo-/radio-therapy and stem cell transplantation can promote better leukemia cell destruction. This approach may greatly improve the outcomes of transplantation therapy and prevent future leukemia relapse. Importantly, these studies require the use of human blood stem cells and cord blood is a rich source of these cells.

Development and validation of a humanized mouse model for the pre-clinical evaluation of vaccines against liver pathogens

Project location: Edmonton

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2015-03-17

Expected Project End Date: 2015-10-17

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 25

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Malaria is responsible for nearly 1.24 million deaths annually, mostly young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite decades of research, a vaccine to prevent malaria remains elusive.  One of the major challenges in vaccine development is lack of suitable animal models to evaluate new experimental vaccines.  Chimpanzees and other primates are not available for either ethical or financial reason and there is currently no way to test vaccines in mice against the human species of parasites. In order to overcome some of these obstacles, we will develop a mouse transplanted with a human liver and a human immune system established from cord blood. We will use these mice to test new experimental malaria vaccines. The ability to optimize the delivery of the vaccine in mice prior to embarking on expensive human trials will enable the rapid early phase development of promising vaccines against malaria and other pathogens that infect the liver.

Cell production augmentation techniques

Project location: Kingston

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2015-03-01

Expected Project End Date: 2015-07-01

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 20

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Regenerative medicine involving the transplantation of cells holds great promise for improving the clinical efficacy of conventional treatments. This is possible because the implantation of repair-specific cells (such as stem cells from cord blood) have the ability to restore tissue to normal function. The current procedures to create cell-based products are all manual in nature and hence do not enable high reproducibility and cost-effectiveness. Automated production could potentially be achieved through the robotic duplication of manual actions; however, the general industry challenge is that existing robotic systems for basic cell culture are highly complex, require significant space for operation, and require a high capital equipment investment. We are investigating cell parameters and system requirements to develop an innovative, cost-effective and automated bioreactor-based system to meet the clinical production challenges related to cord blood expansion in order to provide more options for patient transplant.

 


Strategies for enhancing cell therapy for optimal regeneration in pulmonary arterial hypertension – SECTOR-PAH

Project location: Ottawa

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2014-11-28

Expected Project End Date: 2018-11-27

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 200

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating disease in which high blood pressures in the lung lead to heart failure and eventually death. Emerging regenerative therapies involving endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have begun to show some promise in clinical trials. Although EPCs are typically rare in circulating blood, we now know that they are more abundant in cord blood and may also be even more efficient at cardiovascular repair. We intend to use cord blood to efficiently generate EPCs and perform studies so that we may better understand why they are effective in PAH. With a better understanding of their mechanisms, we aim to develop methods to further enhance the activity EPCs to design more effective therapies for cardiovascular diseases such as PAH.

 


Ex Vivo Differentiation of Human Hematopoietic and Endothelial Progenitor Cells for Genomics and Proteomics Analyses

Project location: Ottawa

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2014-08-05

Expected Project End Date: 2019-08-04

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 300

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Cord blood is a rich source of blood stem cells. These cells are currently used therapeutically in patients with beta-thalassemia, leukemia, limb ischemia, myocardial infarction and stroke. However, blood stem cells cannot be isolated in sufficient quantities to treat adults and cannot be expanded in the laboratory. Furthermore, there is room to improve their efficiency in repairing diseased tissue.

Our laboratory is using innovative technologies to decipher the role of specific proteins that control the function of blood stem cells. This will allow us to identify specific drugs to ameliorate the ability of these cells to treat disease. We anticipate that our study will lead to the development of new strategies to 1) expand blood stem cells in the laboratory such that enough cells can be produced to treat adults; and 2) improve the function of blood stem cells such that they are more efficient in repairing damaged blood vessels.

 


Evaluation of culture media for cord blood-derived progenitor cells

Project location: Vancouver

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2014-08-05

Expected Project End Date: 2015-09-01

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 20

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

A set of blood-derived progenitor cells could be useful for the treatment of diseases as diverse as vascular disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. However, these circulating cells are extremely rare, and must be cultured (grown in medium) to expand their numbers before use. We are evaluating several cell culture media for the isolation and expansion cord blood-derived progenitor cells, which could be useful in the future in human cell therapy.

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Elucidating the role of PCL2 in normal hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis

Project location: Ottawa

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2014-08-20

Expected Project End Date: 2015-08-20

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 75

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is one of the deadliest types of cancers. 30-40% of AML patients younger than 60 years of age are long-term survivors, while only 10-15% of patients over 60 years of age are long-term survivors. Less than 10% of patients with relapsed AML survive long-term. The standard treatment has not changed in over 30 years, which is why survival rates have not improved. We recently identified a protein called PCL2, which is abnormally expressed in most AML patients. We believe that PCL2 could be a target for new chemotherapeutic drugs to treat AML patients that harbour PCL2 mutations. To pursue this strategy, we need to understand the role of PCL2 in normal and leukemic blood development. Therefore we will manipulate the expression of PCL2 in umbilical cord blood cells to help us understand the role of PCL2 with the ultimate goal of developing better therapies for AML.

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Developing bioprocesses to expand cord blood hematopoietic stem cells for clinical use

Project location: Toronto

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2014-09-10

Expected Project End Date: 2019-03-31

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 540

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation is the only stem cell therapy routinely performed in patients with leukemia and lymphoma. However 40% of patients will not find a suitable bone marrow donor. Using umbilical cord blood (UCB) as an alternative source of HSCs has several advantages, including non-invasiveness, ready availability, and a higher tolerance for HLA mismatches. The limited number of stem and progenitor cells in a single UCB unit has impaired the success rate of UCB transplants. Our lab has developed an automated closed-system bioprocess that robustly expands UCB-derived HSCs and progenitors. Our next steps involve the use of a novel small molecule and integrating the detection system into the bioreactor to automate media injection, both of which will maximize the expansion of stem cells and enable the real-time control of the UCB cell culture in a sample-specific manner while minimizing the media use and the associated cost.

 


Characterization of the hematopoietic reconstitution enhancing activity of osteoblasts derived from human mesenchymal stromal cells

Project location: Ottawa

Project status: On-going

Expected Project Start Date: 2014-09-22

Expected Project End Date: 2017-04-01

Estimated number of whole cord blood units required to complete this research project: 75

Lay Summary of the Research Project:

Umbilical cord blood transplantation provides the opportunity for patients without a suitable donor to receive a life-saving stem cell transplantation. This procedure is however associated with a slower recovery of blood cells. Cord blood stem cells can be expanded in culture, and these have been shown to be able to produce blood cells faster. In this proposal, we will investigate how bone marrow cells regulate the growth of cord blood stem cells. We will also try to identify molecules that are responsible for these activities. This research will foster new knowledge on the role of bone cells as important regulators of blood cell production, and may lead to new solutions to improve cord blood transplantation. Indeed, new approaches are urgently needed to address the needs of the increasing number of Canadian patients who will soon rely on UCB transplantation for their continuing health.

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