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Hong Kong’s First Mononuclear Cell Bank Attains AABB Accreditation

Accreditation of Hong Kong’s first public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell (UCBMNC) bank marks a significant step forward in building its international credibility.

Approximately 90 percent of cord blood in Hong Kong is discarded as medical waste. This waste can be used in research for new cellular therapies for a wide range of diseases.

A partner company of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), Mononuclear Therapeutics Limited, announced in January 2020 that it has attained international accreditation form AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks) for Hong Kong’s first public umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell (UCBMNC) bank. This bank is based in Hong Kong Science Park.

This 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 ford injuries, strokes and age-related macular degeneration.

AABB, an international not-for-profit organization represents individuals and institutions involved in transfusion medicine and cellular therapies to advance treatments worldwide. This accreditation for Mononuclear Therapeutics’ UCBMNC bank ensures that the collecting, processing, testing, and distribution of the cells are in accordance with the highest standards of quality and safety.

Ensuring the banked cells have high viability, and no bacterial or fungi contamination, donor screening and testing has to be done. The cord blood cells are also identified for the type of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) present. All of these will allow the patient to have access to safe, effective and immune-matched mononuclear cells (MNCs) for transplantation. The cells are stored in a liquid nitrogen tank with temperatures lower than -150 degrees Celsius to maintain a potential shelf-life of 30 years or more.

Funding support was provided by the Hong Kong Government’s Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) to establish the UCBMNC bank and conduct various MNC-related research and clinical studies.

Professor 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.

Mononuclear Therapeutics will be collaborating with the Chinese University of Hong Kong to collect cord blood and carry out a preclinical animal study of MNCs to treat neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Further collaborations are in the works with different hospitals and clinics in Hong Kong to encourage new mothers to donate cord blood to the public UBMNC bank. In return for their donations, mothers can get their MNCs at no cost when required. [APBN]