CB-HERMES – Cord Blood-Hematopoietic Stem Cells:
Reliable Methods for ex-vivo ExpanSion
Lifelong blood production depends on haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their ability to self-renew and to differentiate. Cord blood (CB) banking is continually increasing due to the superior properties of CB compared to adult HSC. However our inability to expand HSCs renders insufficient stem cell numbers, a major constraint in many settings of CB-HSC transplantation. Despite of improved isolation and processing techniques CB-HSC transplantation is still mainly restricted to paediatric patients. New methods that generate sufficient numbers of HSCs from limited input cells are needed to make CB-HSCs available to adult patients and amenable to advanced cell and gene therapy approaches in regenerative medicine.
Therefore, the aim of this consortium is to open CB-HSCs to new therapeutic applications by developing controlled strategies for expansion and transplantation. Specifically we plan to apply novel growth factor cocktails, nano-structured 3D surfaces, modifications of inhibitory pathways and epigenotype and specific stroma environments in order to expand and regulate HSCs ex vivo.
The first clinical application of novel strategies developed by us is in the context of allogeneic CB-HSCs transplantation for elderly patients suffering from haematopoietic disorders.