ValiRx' Morphogenesis unit have developed a new, in-line, cell purification device that allows stem cells to be selectively and efficiently removed from a blood sample in a more patient-friendly manner.
The ability to work with pure stem cells should reduce a major barrier to stem cell use in both clinical and research laboratories.
The Polymer-Antibody Cell Separation (PACS) system works in an analogous manner to the affinity columns used to purify monoclonal antibodies.
The separation and purification of stem cells from the blood is a necessity for both efficient stem cell research and the development of reproducible stem cell therapies. The reliability of stem cell studies often relies on the relative abundance of the cell population in question and the number of contaminating cells that may interfere with the results. This has led to an increasing need for more selective extraction methods other than bulk methods such as centrifugation or apheresis.
The device, which has a relatively small footprint, works by filtering a blood sample through a "plug and play" filter cassette made of a special polymer that has no cell affinity to avoid contamination. The cassette can be functionalised with cell-specific antibodies that sequester the desired cells from the blood. The collected blood is then collected and could theoretically be returned to the patient or used for clinical studies.
The collected cells can then be washed from the cassette by using an elution solvent system that changes the pH and ionic strength sufficiently to destroy the attractive interactions between the cell and the antibody.
The cells can then be collected in a compliant media encourages cell survival that aids cell study or growth.
The specificity of the system can be tailored to suit the users needs by using different antibodies and multiple cells types can be released without altering their function or reducing their viability.
The device, currently undergoing robustness studies prior to release, will have application in both the isolation of stem cells for research purposes and also in the clinical arena as the use of stem cell therapies becomes more prevalent.
The system may also find application as a sophisticated dialysis machine that could potentially remove pathogens or cancer cells from the blood.