New initiatives for therapies underway in GenCure

May 22, 2019

GenCure is collecting tissue previously discarded as medical waste and reusing it as patches that can heal skin and eye injuries, leaders from the organization told members of The Blood & Tissue Center Foundation board of directors at their May meeting.

The subsidiary of BioBridge Global also is working with partners on new personalized medicine therapies and collecting larger volumes of cord blood units, Rogelio Zamilpa, PhD, and Jessica Raley, PhD, told the board.

Zamilpa is Senior Director of Cord Blood, and Raley is Director of the Center for Apheresis and Therapeutic Services.

GenCure is developing therapies from amnion, a clear membrane in the placenta that can be processed and made into a patch, just a few cells thick, for wound barriers. Amnion patches can be used to help heal burns or diabetic foot ulcers, as well as aid in recovery from eye injuries.

Previously, the placenta has been discarded as medical waste by most hospitals. But scientists and organizations like GenCure are finding more uses for it, the umbilical cord and amnion, which together are known as birth tissues.

“We collected 250 placentas the first year of the program and 500 the second year,” Zamilpa said. “We would like to continue that growth.”

The Texas Cord Blood Bank program is expanding as well, he said.

“Thanks to your support, we now have at least one GenCure employee at every one of our cord blood collection sites,” Zamilpa told The Foundation’s board.

Having a nurse at partner hospitals means the units, which are collected after a normal birth, are as large as possible. GenCure is piloting a new technique called ex utero collection to maximize the donation size, since the larger the unit, the larger the number of viable stem cells that will be available later for transplant for patients with blood cancers and immune disorders.

GenCure distributed more than 200 stem cell units for transplant in 2018, Raley said, including both cord blood-derived units and those collected from adult donors at GenCure’s apheresis center or at a partnering hospital.

The organization also is working with a longtime biomedical partner to develop personalized medicine therapies for prostate cancer, Raley said.

“Personalized medicine, in this case, means extracting T cells from a patient, treating those cells and putting them back into the patient, where they can then fight the prostate cancer,” Raley said.