This project aims to develop a novel microfluidic device that preserves the maximal viability and potency of cord blood stem cells, in order to render cord blood transplantation effective for adult patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and other serious blood and bone marrow diseases. Currently cord blood transplantation yields good outcomes in children (50% - 70% one year survival), and has been shown to have significant advantages over other types of stem cell transplantation. However, cord blood transplantation in adults suffers poor outcomes (~20% one year survival). It is estimated that the dosage of potent stem cells has to be increased by a factor of 3 for adult cord blood transplantation to yield satisfactory outcomes, due to the larger body weights of adult patients. Studies have shown that the current cord blood processing and banking practices lead to as much as ~90% loss in cell potency, particularly during the shipping delay (36 to 48 hrs) and the centrifugal volume reduction step, leaving only 10 - 20% of the original cell potency by the time a unit arrives at a processing facility. The new device proposed here will enable immediate processing of cord blood at point of care, thereby eliminating the loss in viability and potency. The device will be based on a hydrodynamic effect observed in natural blood circulation to allow for gentle and physiological separation of cells. Early prototypes have achieved better initial results than conventional methods: >90% total nucleated cells were recovered with no detectable loss in cell viability (n = 6). Phase I of this project aims to demonstrate the high viability and potency of th cord blood stem cells enriched using an improved prototype device. Phase II aims to optimize the prototype device, validate its safety and effectiveness, and benchmark its performance against standard centrifugation-based systems. Potential impacts of the device include enabling cord blood to replace bone marrow as the primary source of stem cells for transplantation, delivering significantly better patient outcomes, and making cord blood banking and stem cell therapies much more effective.
This project aims to develop a novel device that preserves the maximal viability and potency of cord blood stem cells, in order to render cord blood transplantation effective for adult patients. The proposed device will potentially enable cord blood to replace bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells as the standard source of stem cells, providing significantly better outcomes and long term survival to patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and many other serious diseases.