Year/Course: 2017-2018
Project type: Medical

Contact: Dr. Krishnaa Mahbubani & Dr. Kourosh Saeb-Parsy, Department of Surgery
Mentor: Dr. Karin Schmitt

Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from living donors are the main source of lymphocytes for basic and translational research, including drug screening and the generation of cellular immunotherapies such as Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) and regulatory T cells. The number of PBMCs isolated from each living donor is typically 108 cells: insufficient to conduct extensive studies, reproduce pre-clinical or clinical studies, or generate a large supply of identical cells for patient use. Laboratory and drug screening studies must therefore be normalised, or cells pooled from multiple donors, often leading to inconsistent results with large errors owing to donor variability. The problem is compounded when rare subsets of lymphocytes are of interest.

The inventors have developed and validated a method to extract an alternative viable, functional and well-characterised lymphocyte population from donors using appropriate ethical approval and informed consent. The new method has the potential to provide cell numbers up to 1000-fold higher per donor than typically available through PBMC collection. This novel source can ensure sufficient availability of lymphocytes for laboratory, clinical and pharmaceutical applications.

The challenge for the i-Team is to investigate the different current uses of PBMCs, looking at questions such as the number of cells needed for each use, which applications would be able to use an alternative type of lymphocyte, and any regulatory requirements or restrictions that might affect the new extraction method.