Due to the expense involved and critical mass required, there are only a few large global consortia attempting to produce red blood cells from stem cells as a commercial product. We have developed relevant bio-engineering expertise as part of a North American consortium funded by DARPA. A Wellcome Trust funded consortium has made significant process on the biological research. This project ties together the UK research expertise in red cell production, laying the foundation for further product development and to establish a stronger UK position (and therefore exploitation potential) in haematopoietic products.
It is clear that high levels of scalability cannot be achieved through current expansion capability of unmanipulated cord blood CD34+ haematopoietic stem cells. However, human embryonic stem cells have potentially limitless capacity for proliferation and the capability to differentiate first into CD34+ haematopoietic stem cells, then erythrocytes.
We have established a novel scalable suspension production method for erythrocytes from CD34+ cells derived from cord blood. We have characterised this process with a high degree of resolution to identify previously unreported patterns of differentiation and metabolic behaviour.
In this current project, we will receive CD34+ cells that have been derived from human embryonic stem cells in our collaborators laboratory in Glasgow. We will place them through a version of the scalable process established for adult CD34+ cells, and also through an adaptation of the currently established process for CD34+ cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. We will compare the proliferative potential, red blood cell production profile and metabolic behaviour of the two cell sources, and draw conclusions for manufacturability and monitoring requirements.
Robert Thomas, Forhad Ahmed (Loughborough University)
The University of Glasgow
For further details of this project, please contact us.