A team of scientists at Newcastle University's UK Centre for Cord Blood has established a valuable collaboration with Minnesota-based biomedical company BioE to develop improved protocols for isolating cord blood cells with therapeutic potential, and to improve protocols on all aspects of working with donated umbilical cord blood. The team, led by Professor Colin McGuckin, Newcastle University's Professor of Regenerative Medicine, will use technology developed by BioE to isolate rare stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood that may be useful in developing therapies. It is hoped that an extensive library of high quality cord blood stem cells can be established. Professor McGuckin's team was the first in the world to produce embryonic-like stem cells from cord blood that have the capacity to differentiate into multiple cell types.
Talking about the potential benefits from the collaboration and developing this new approach to isolate cells, Professor McGuckin said, 'Our research indicates cord blood has an amazing capacity to develop into a wide range of human tissues including blood, blood vessel, liver and nervous tissues. This capability could have a huge impact not only on treating human disease, but also on providing human tissues for drug development and testing, potentially removing the uncertainty of whether new drugs will have side effects. Our partnership with BioE moves forward a platform technology specifically designed to help develop cord blood for the benefit of regenerative medicine'.
The Newcastle centre for cord blood is in a unique position to carry this research forward as it brings together scientific expertise from Durham and Newcastle University, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS trust and other partners. BioE has, so far, pledged to invest £160,000 in the centre. This money will fund a new researcher for the team, and will also provide a research nurse who will work with new parents at the Royal Victoria Infirmary to encourage them to donate their baby's umbilical cord to the project. A supply of donated cord blood is essential to the success of the initiative. Researchers will also be developing improved methods of storing donated cord blood.
Michael Haider, president and chief executive of BioE commented, 'we are extremely excited to partner with some of the world's leading stem cell researchers at the University of Newcastle to advance the utility of our PrepaCyte platform and realise the benefits it will bring to therapeutic stem cell research. The University of Newcastle is an extremely valuable partner for us given the wealth of technical and clinical resources it can offer BioE as we continue to identify and solidify business opportunities internationally'.
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Ulster medic in front line of new stem cell research