Dr. Stephen Minger joined GE Healthcare in 2009 from Kings College, London, where he was director of the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory. Known worldwide for spearheading the group that generated the first human embryonic stem cell line in the UK, Dr Minger has been a a high-profile advocate for the advancement of stem cell science. His involvement with GE Healthcare hilites a substantial committment to the future of Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine.
He is currently responsible for the development of GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ cell-based technologies for use in drug discovery and pharmaceutical research. He also directs the development of GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ enabling technologies for the rapidly emerging fields of regenerative medicine and cell therapy.
Biographical details above are from here. GE Healthcare is a distributor for our Sector Company Thermogenesis Corporation's BioArchive automated cord blood storage unit and its AXP cord blood processing device.
Dr. Minger is supporting the Make Your Baby Proud campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the options available for parents to donate umbilical cord blood for public use.
“In principle, when the baby is delivered," said Dr. Minger in the May 29, 2012 GE Healthcare News piece, "you extract the residual blood from the umbilical cord and placenta. That material is processed to remove red blood cells and concentrate the stem cells formed within the placenta. The cells are then frozen for extended periods until they are needed for therapy.”
The cord blood stem cells are used mainly as a substitute for bone marrow cells in treating haematological disorders such as leukemia and lymphoma. Although the uses of these stem cells are still relatively new, they have been a major focus for many people trying to understand stem cells and their therapeutic potential.
Added Dr. Minger, “It’s taken us a long time to really understand the power of the stem cells in cord blood and that’s why it’s only been in the last 10 years that cord blood has been seen as a potential source of cells; not only for bone marrow transplantation, but increasingly also for other types of patients.”
Thousands of people around the world die every year from leukemia simply because they cannot get bone marrow transplants. Make Your Baby Proud encourages people who do not plan on banking their cord blood privately to consider donating their cord blood to charitable trusts or public cord blood banks. These banks process cord blood, usually at no cost to the couple, and it can be used to help people anywhere in the world who need a transplant but do not have a matched bone marrow donor.
Dr. Minger says the objective of the Make Your Baby Proud campaign is to educate people about the options: “You know it’s a source of cells that’s really quite important and has a lot of potential, but there are not enough publically donated cord blood samples to meet demand.”
“It’s important to work with trustworthy people like the Anthony Nolan Trust which started out as a registry encouraging people to become bone marrow donors. Now there are cells essentially equivalent to bone marrow cells which go beyond their aspirations," he added.
The future of cord blood cell use is to find out whether stem cells from umbilical cords can be used to treat other conditions. Dr. Minger is upbeat: “There are investigations underway into regenerative applications in bone and cartilage, for example. It’s speculative, but it’s one of the ways cord blood could be used in the future. There are other clinical applications on the horizon that might soon be new uses for it,” he said.
We found these comments intriguing in view of the fact that GE Healthcare is a distributor of the blood and extraction products of Thermogenesis Corp. (KOOL). This is from the GE News piece of May 29, 2012:
"GE Healthcare's Life Science business has been distributing ThermoGenesis's AXP™ AutoXpress System since 2006. This system is used by cord blood banks to volume reduce umbilical cord blood samples into a stem cell rich buffy coat which then can be cryopreserved and stored."
Adapted from the GE Healthcare announcement.