Biocyte Corp. this week was issued a U.S. patent, No. 5,192,553,that covers therapeutic uses of frozen stem and progenitor cellsfrom blood recovered from infants' umbilical cords andplacentas for later use in transplantation.

Stem cells are immature cells that can regenerate the blood-forming system.

Bone marrow transplants have been used to repair stem cellsystems that have been damaged or destroyed, but thistherapy requires immunologically matched donors. The use ofcord blood stem cells (CBSCs) may allow physicians to obtainmatched stem cells without having to search for a donor.

The patent's 64 claims encompass use of CBSCs as analternative to bone marrow stem cells in transplantationtherapies for cancers, genetic disorders, immune deficienciesand other life-threatening diseases. These frozen cells havealready been used in more than 15 transplant procedures forsiblings, and are being evaluated for use in transplants inunrelated individuals.

Biocyte of New York is developing a storage service so thatparents may save their newborn's CBSCs for potential use intransplantation in the child or a relative.

CBSCs also have broad applications in gene therapy, saidKenneth Moch, the company's president and chief executiveofficer. Biocyte is exploring uses in such chronic or life-threatening diseases as cancers, inborn genetic disorders andimmune deficiencies.

The U.S. patent was issued to company co-founders Edward A.Boyse, Hal Broxmeyer and Gordon Douglas, and assigned toBiocyte. Biocyte has also applied for patent protection inWestern Europe, Canada and Japan on frozen CBSCs and theirrecombinant counterparts, as well as related methods.

Biocyte previously received U.S. patent No. 5,004,681 coveringcryopreserved CBSCs as a composition of matter in April 1991.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.