New cellular-based therapies have great potential to transform the treatment of patients with a range of life-threatening diseases. Caleb Kennedy, Ph.D., senior manager, Bioinformatics Research, and Jamie Margolis, Ph.D., senior manager, Product Development Operations, explain how fulfilling the promise of cell therapy requires beginning with the best possible donor cell source.
Each cellular therapy-focused organization has different needs when it comes to donor attributes. Some find HLA to be the most important factor for the therapies they are developing. Others might require their donor cells to carry specific infectious disease markers. And some may only require an FDA-eligible donor. Whatever the need, our bioinformatics or operations teams can help identify ideal donor cells.
Our parent company, the National Marrow Donor Program®/Be The Match®, maintains the world’s largest, and most diverse, registry of potential adult blood or marrow donors as well as donated umbilical cord blood units. We currently have 19 million potential donors listed in our registry, and our partnerships with international and cooperative registries grants us access to nearly 29 million potential donors and more than 712,000 cord blood units worldwide. Because of the depth of our donor pool, we are able to screen for donors based on multiple sets of desired attributes—including specific ethnic backgrounds or the presence of particular infectious disease markers or genetic traits.
Another advantage of having such a broad and diverse donor pool is that it enables us to protect against donor fatigue. Because we have such a large donor file to support us, we can identify similar donors with similar characteristics so we don’t have to return to the same donors again and again.
Our specialty is customized donor selection. We consent and re-consent donors for all discovery, pre-clinical, clinical and commercial needs. In addition, we have the ability to collect additional health-related data and find alternate donors when necessary.