To solve these problems, the students, who were enrolled in a master's degree program in the university's Center for Bioengineering Innovation and 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 The 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, Chris 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. Bas
|Contact: Phil Sneiderman|
Johns Hopkins University