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- Science Park’s Partner Company Mononuclear Therapeutics Attains AABB Accreditation for Hong Kong’s First Mononuclear Cell Bank
Using donated cord blood to pioneer research and development on life-saving remedies for neurological diseases
(From left) Mr. Simon Sze, Associate Director, BioMedical Technology Cluster of HKSTP; Prof. Wise Young, Chairman of Mononuclear Therapeutics and Prof. Ronald Wang, Division Head, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology of CUHK introduced the first public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell bank in Hong Kong.
Prof. Wise Young, Chairman of Mononuclear Therapeutics shared the far-reaching impact of the public cord blood bank in aiding tens of thousands of patients, in view of the high demand for cellular therapeutics of neurological diseases. Hong Kong is an ideal place for setting up a public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell bank.
Mononuclear Therapeutics attained an international accreditation from AABB for Hong Kong’s first public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell bank, based at Hong Kong Science Park.
Hong Kong, 10 January, 2020 – Mononuclear Therapeutics Limited (MonoTx), a partner company of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) announced that the company has attained international accreditation from AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks) for Hong Kong’s first public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell (UCBMNC) bank, based at Hong Kong Science Park.
This accreditation marks a significant step forward in building the international credibility and profile of the company’s first and only UCBMNC bank in Hong Kong. The bank uses donated cord blood to support research and development for the use of immuno-matched UCBMNCs for cellular therapeutics of neurological diseases including spinal cord injuries, strokes and age-related macular degeneration.
AABB is an international not-for-profit organisation representing individuals and institutions involving in the fields of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies to advance the therapies worldwide. The AABB accreditation for MonoTx’s UCBMNC bank ensures that the collecting, processing, testing, distribution of the cells are in accordance with the highest levels of quality and safety. The banked cells have high viability, no bacteria and fungi contamination. Donor screening and testing have to be done to ensure no infectious diseases and that the cord blood cells are typed for human leukocyte antigen (HLA). All these allow the patient to find the safe, effective and immune-matched MNCs for transplantation. MNCs are stored in a liquid nitrogen tank with temperatures lower than -150°C to maintain a potential shelf-life of 30 years or longer.
MonoTx received funding support from the Hong Kong Government’s Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) to establish the UCBMNC bank and conduct various MNC-related research and clinical studies. MonoTx collaborates with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to collect cord blood and is carrying out a preclinical animal study of MNCs to treat neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a type of newborn brain damage.
Making use of cord blood for life-saving biomedical research
MonoTx is exploring further collaboration with different hospitals and clinics in Hong Kong to encourage new mothers to donate cord blood to the public UBCMNC bank, for the sake of saving lives and developing new treatments. Currently, about 90% of the cord blood in Hong Kong is discarded as medical waste. It can be used to support life-saving research for new cellular therapies for a range of diseases indeed. In return for their donations, mothers can get back their MNCs at no cost if it is required for cell therapy of the donor’s children. Prior to the establishment of the public cord blood bank, parents can only rely on private cord blood banks to store cord blood cells at a very high cost.
Prof. Wise Young, Chairman and Lab Director of MonoTx, said, “Hong Kong is an ideal place to set up a public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell bank. This city gives us access to a large pool of stem cells of Asian ethnic origins, to further develop suitable cellular therapeutics for the larger Asian population around the world. With funding support from ITF to set up the facility, we hope to provide sufficient UCBMNC inventory that can be HLA-matched to treat millions of patients and provide immune-matched cells to other biotech companies in developing cell products for other diseases.”
“We aim to become a world-class cellular therapy company to deliver breakthrough UCB products and validate more cost-effective and efficient methods to isolate MNCs from fresh UCB. The AABB accreditation is another step forward in securing globally recognised certification of our stringent processes. In the long run, we aspire to eventually build a 30,000-unit public bank for public use in Asia,” he added.
Prof. W. John Kao, Head of the BioMedical Technology Cluster of HKSTP, congratulated MonoTx for gaining the AABB accreditation and taking one step closer to making MNC therapeutics more readily available in Asia. “We are delighted that MonoTx is pioneering the development of cellular therapeutics for neurological diseases, right here at Science Park. Hong Kong is well positioned in biomedical technology, backed by the strong pool of research professionals and internationally recognised clinical trial centres. HKSTP will continue to serve biotech companies, to facilitate biomedical advances, and to build Hong Kong into Asia’s biotech hub for the benefit of people everywhere.”