Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Students’ Device Could Improve Collection of Stem Cells from Umbilical Cord Blood

Johns Hopkins graduate students have invented a system to significantly boost the number of stem cells collected from a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta, so that many more patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood disorders can be treated with these valuable cells.

The prototype is still in the testing stage, but initial results are promising. The student inventors have obtained a provisional patent covering the technology and have formed a company, TheraCord, to further develop the technology, which may someday be used widely in hospital maternity units. The students say the need for this system is obvious.

“Cord blood, collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after live birth, is the most viable source of stem cells, yet over 90 percent is uncollected and discarded,” the team members wrote in a presentation of their project at the university’s recent Biomedical Engineering Design Day. “One of the main reasons valuable cord blood is so frequently discarded is because no adequate collection method exists.”

The students say their easy-to-use invention, called the CBx System, could remedy these shortcomings.

When a baby is born, a few families pay for private collection and storage of the child’s cord blood, in case its stem cells are needed to treat a future illness. When families do not choose this option, the materials containing cord blood are generally thrown away as medical waste. But at the 180 hospitals affiliated with public cord blood banks, new mothers can donate cord blood so that its stem cells can be extracted and used to rebuild the immune systems of seriously ill patients, particularly those with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

According to the Johns Hopkins students, the current method of collecting these cells from cord blood doesn’t work well because it relies strictly on gravity. The National Marrow Donor Program says about 50 percent of the units collected in this way contain enough stem cells to be stored for transplant use. Another organization, the National Cord Blood Program, says only 40 percent of collected units meet transplantation standards. Even when the procedure is successful, the Johns Hopkins students said, the average collection yields only enough stem cells to treat a child but not enough to treat an adult patient, based on the recommended cell dosage.

To solve these problems, the students, who were enrolled in a master’s degree program in the university’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design, spent the past year developing a new collection method that uses both mechanical forces and a chemical solution to help detach and flush more stem cells from the cord and placenta blood vessels.

“This is important for two reasons,” said James Waring, a member of the student team. “First, we believe it collects enough cells from each birth so that stem-cell therapy can be used on adult patients, who need more cells.”

In addition, in early testing on discarded cords and placentas at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the team’s device collected up to 50 percent more stem cells than the traditional gravity system, the students said. “We think our system will increase the number of successful cord blood collections, meaning more patients overall will benefit,” Waring said.

Along with Waring, the student inventors were Elias Bitar, Christopher Chiang, Matthew Means and Sean Monagle. While developing the system, the team entered its project in college business plan competitions, gathering recognition from judges and about $14,000 in prize money. After completing their academic program, the students recently received their master’s degrees. Team members Chiang and Means have chosen to remain in Baltimore to manage and advance TheraCord over the coming year.

“Our next step,” said Chiang, “is to optimize the system so that it collects even more stem cells. Based on previous experiments using similar techniques, we believe it’s possible to get two to five times the amount produced by the existing gravity technique. The other important goal is to make the system as easy as possible for hospital employees to use.”

The students learned about the need for a better way to collect stem cells early in their master’s program, when they accompanied physicians on hospital rounds to learn what new medical tools and devices were needed most urgently.

Edith Gurewitsch, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine associate professor of gynecology/obstetrics and biomedical engineering, first identified the clinical need for a better method to collect cord blood. Agreeing to be the student team’s clinical advisor, she provided guidance on both the clinical and workflow aspects of the device’s design. In the patent documents, Gurewitsch is listed as a co-inventor of the CBx System technology.

Related links:

Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design:

Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering:

Johns Hopkins University news releases can be found online at Information on automatic e-mail delivery of science and medical news releases is available at the same address.

June 20, 2011 Tags: biomedical engineering, blood bank, cord blood, Johns Hopkins Engineering, leukemia, lymphona, myeoloma, stem cells

Posted in Engineering, Medicine and Nursing, Student-Related News, Technology

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

Phil Sneiderman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>