|Stem Cells Testing Tools that enlighten Drug Discovery and Cell Therapy Researchers
I am pleased to profile Dr. Ivan Rich. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of HemoGenix and an internationally recognized leader in hematology. I am timing this profile to coincide with Neuromics launch of HemoGenix’s first to market fully standardized, proven and cost effective ATP-based, in vitro bioluminescence and high-throughput screening (HTS) cell based assay systems.
These assays represent best in class solutions for detecting and measuring cell viability, functionality, growth, proliferation and cytotoxicity of stem and progenitor cells for stem cell and basic research, cellular therapy, in vitro toxicity testing and veterinary applications.
1996-2000-Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital
1995-Second Thesis in Experimental Hematology, University of Ulm
1981-1983-Post Doc University of Chicago
1973-1978-Ph.D. University of Ulm, Biology
Ivan’s journey leading to founding of HemoGenix provided him a unique blend of scientific, entrepreneurial and operational expertise. These traits are the drivers that enable him to invent, successfully commercialize and continuously improve cell based assay systems. These systems meet a wide range of demanding requirements. These include, for example, meeting the requirement by Standards Organizations and Regulatory Agencies for “appropriate” and “validated” assays that can be used by cord blood banks and stem cell transplantation centers to determine whether a stem cell product has the necessary potency characteristics and can be released for transplantation into a patient…high standards indeed!
The Back Story-Hematology and Hemopoietic Stem Cells
Ivan received his PhD from the University of Ulm, in Germany in 1973 in Human Biology. He then completed a second thesis in 1995 in experimental hematology. Our story starts here. As a background we need to understand: the hemopoietic stem cell compartment consists of cells which are responsible for maintaining the steady-state production of some two million red blood cells and two hundred thousand white blood cells every second of a person’s life!
Beginning in 1973, he worked extensively with “classic” colony-forming cell (CFC) assay. At the same time, He also gained experience in culturing erythropoietic progenitor cells (BFU-E and CFU-E) under low oxygen tension. His group was the first to demonstrate that macrophages grown in vitro could respond to low oxygen tension by regulating erythropoietin production at a local level. His group also demonstrated the role of HOXB6 in erythropoietic development as well as the role of the Na/H exchanger in hematopoiesis. “Necessity being the mother of invention”, Ivan began developing these assays into miniaturized format. Assays necessary for fully understanding the potential and associated risks of using of these cells for human therapies.
This opened the door for him to do a post doc with the late Dr. Eugene Goldwasser at the University of Chicago. Dr. Goldwasser was renowned for discovering the first partial amino acid sequence of erythropoietin (EPO). This discovery eventually led to the production of human recombinant EPO by Amgen and the development of first EPO related therapeutic (Epogen). It is used to treat anemia from kidney disease and certain cancers.
We now move to Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital in South Carolina where Ivan served as Director of Basic Research for Transplantation Medicine. From this research, we learn that the most primitive stem cells have the greatest potential for proliferation and long-term reconstitution of the hemopoietic system, while the most mature stem cells have only short-term reconstitution potential. These primitive cells then become the most excellent candidates for future therapies. BUT how do we know the population of cells derived from cord blood or bone marrow contain the required population of potent and safe (phenotypically stable) primitive stem cells for effective therapies? We can ask the same questions for other stem cell populations that are candidates for therapies. These include mesenchymal stem cells, neural stem cells and others.
Introducing Quantitative, Accurate and Proven High Throughput (HTS) Stem Cell Assays
Ivan and HemoGenix began answering these questions in 2002 with help from National Cancer Insitute (NCI) SBIR grants. This led to the successful launch of the HALO® family of kits. These kits are based on Bioluminomics™ which is the science of using the cell’s energy source in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to provide us with a wealth of information. The production of ATP is an indicator of the cell’s cellular and mitochondrial integrity, which, in turn, is an indicator of its viability and cellular functionality. ATP also changes in proportion to cell number, proliferation status and potential, its cytotoxicity and even its apoptotic status.
HemoGenix continues to develop and evolve kits key to developing effective and safe stem cell related drugs and cell based therapies.
Here are examples of the kits in action.
HemoGenix and Vitro Diagnostic-Via this partnership, LUMENESC kits for mesenchymal stem cells include high performance growth media for research, quality control or potency or cytotoxicity to the mesenchymal stem cell system
LumiSTEM™ for testing hNP1™ Human Neural Progenitors Expansion Kit-enables fast, accurate and multiplex detection system for hastening advances in drug safety and discovery as well as environmental toxicology. . LumiSTEM™[now LumiCYTE-HT] kits are used for in vitro detection of liver toxicity, with an overall reduction in drug development cost for drug candidates
High Throughput (HTS) Screening of Multiple Compounds using HALO®-(to learn more see: TOXICOLOGICAL SCIENCES 87(2), 427–441 (2005) doi:10.1093/toxsci/kﬁ25). Eleven reference compounds from the Registry of Cytotoxicity (RC) and eight other compounds, including anticancer drugs, were studied over an 8- to 9-log dose range for their effects on seven cell populations from both human and mouse bone marrow simultaneously. The cell populations studied included a primitive (HPP-SP) and mature (CFC-GEMM) stem cell, three hematopoietic (BFU-E, GM-CFC, Mk-CFC) and two lymphopoietic (T-CFC, B-CFC) populations. The results reveal a ﬁve-point prediction paradigm for lympho-hematotoxicity.
The dawn is breaking for stem cells therapies. These cells are the reparative engines for damaged cells in our bodies. These therapies have the potential to alleviate the world’s most insidious, chronic and costly diseases. Tools that enable us to understand the true properties and potency of these cells lower the cost of discovering drugs and cell based therapies.
I look for more tools to spring from the vision of Dr. Ivan Rich that will play an ever increasing and important role in the world of basic stem cell research, stem cell based therapies and regenerative medicine. I plan to keep you updated on the evolution and capabilities of these inventions.