Applied Immune Sciences Inc. (AIS) and Haemonetics Corp.announced Wednesday that they have agreed to jointlydevelop and market a system that will collect specific, purifiedcells from peripheral blood through an automated, closeddevice.
This single system, which will be small and portable, will uniteAIS's Cellector cell separation technology with Haemonetics'(NYSE:HAE) MCS portable, automated blood processing system.
The goal is to practice cell therapy in the clinic or the home; tocollect a patient's blood, separate out the desired cellpopulation, treat those cells therapeutically ex vivo, and thenreturn the cells to the patient. "One of the big advantages ofHaemonetics' technology is that it eliminates a hospital visit,"said Jerry Ford, AIS's manager of public and investor relations.The system provides a "transportable, closed sterileenvironment" for the patient's blood, he added.
AIS predicted that such a system might be used to collect stemcells from a patient's peripheral blood. These cells, presentmainly in the bone marrow, are particularly important inpatients whose immune systems are at risk as a result ofexposure to high levels of chemotherapy or radiation.
Although the concentration of stem cells in peripheral blood isonly about 0.5 percent -- as opposed to the still low level of 1percent to 5 percent in bone marrow -- blood is "far easier tocollect than bone marrow," said Ford. And there are ways tocause the bone marrow to release more stem cells into theblood, Ford said, including using certain cytokines orchemotherapy drugs.
The Haemonetics-AIS system could separate those stem cellsfrom the blood and store them in the system's polystyreneprocessing chamber.
"The chamber could be taken to one of AIS's cell therapycenters, where the captured cells could be treated ornumerically expanded, after which they would be reinfused atthe patient's bedside," commented Thomas Okarma, chiefexecutive officer of AIS. The Santa Clara, Calif., companyopened the first of these centers in South San Francisco inNovember 1992, as part of its ongoing AIDS therapy trials.
Haemonetics of Braintree, Mass., manufactures automatedsystems for blood processing in several areas, including bloodcomponent therapy and automated plasma collection; theseparations are achieved via a centrifugal system, explainedHaemonetics' spokesman Stephen Oliver.
Applied Immune's stock (NASDAQ:AISX) closed Wednesday at$18.75, down $1.25 a share.
-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor
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