Hoxworth Blood Center has recently started a Research Endowment with the aim of providing support to projects of excellence in transfusion medicine and regenerative medicine.
Blood and cell products collected in our blood center are very important in the treatment of disease. The main blood components, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma are used for trauma victims, patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer, and burn patients. The factors and immunoglobulins used to treat hemophilia and immune deficiencies are made from plasma. Bone marrow transplants used in treating leukemias are in 80% of cases made up of blood forming cells (so called hematopoietic stem cells collected in our blood centers or hospitals our Blood Center serves). Apheresis machines which allow the collection of individual blood components are used to treat serious blood and immunological diseases and include exchange of plasma or red cells, removal of plasma, platelets or leukocytes, treatment of hypercholesterolemia and graft-versus-host disease among others.
Research at the Hoxworth Blood Center has been carried out since its founding in 1938, by Dr. Paul I Hoxworth. Dr. Tibor Greenwalt, his successor, worked to transform blood banking into the field of transfusion medicine and initiated a dedicated research division in 1979 during his time as director of the blood center. Dr. Ronald Sacher, the current director, continues to foster this momentum.
In clinical transfusion medicine studies, the Research Division has enhanced safer transfusion through the validation of chemical and filtration methods of pathogen reduction in red cells and platelets, and novel methods for extension of red cell and platelet shelf-life for transfusion. This will help prevent shortages and improve the quality and efficacy of these blood products when transfused.
Basic research explores and develops new ideas and looks at the mechanisms behind the observed results. Dr. Greenwalt was convinced that red blood cells could be stored successfully for longer periods. His goal was not just longer storage but cells that were healthy and showed less of the signs of aging (the storage lesion) seen in the then current solutions. By studying the process of red cell aging and the storage lesion, Hoxworth Blood Center pioneered the development of new storage solutions to allow safe, prolonged storage of red cells.
In the last 12 years, Hoxworth Blood Center continued its efforts in transfusion medicine and expanded to develop a major focus on Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell & Hematopoiesis Biology. A growing group of faculty members at Hoxworth Blood Center is working on the development of novel cell therapies. This work has catalyzed collaboration with local, state, national and international institutions.
Generation of blood for transfusion or as a consequence of stem cell transplantation is a major objective of our research endeavors. The Hoxworth Blood Center investigators have contributed to the understanding of the biology of blood formation by using state-of-the-art technologies and sophisticated animal or culture models.
Research from the Division has been pivotal in understanding the processes that allow stem cells to function as blood producers in the bone marrow of people. Signals from the blood-forming environment of the bone marrow have been shown by our investigators to crucially control the formation of blood. Subtle changes in some of these signals translate into bone marrow failure (aplastic anemia) or cancer (myeloproliferative disorders, myelodysplastic syndromes or leukemia).
Hoxworth Blood Center investigators are behind the identification of novel mechanisms that regulate the formation of a group of cells that defend our group against microbes, called neutrophils. A disease called congenital neutropenia depends on the perturbation of some of these mechanisms and research from Hoxworth Blood Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is providing new clues on how adaptive drugs may ameliorate neutropenia. Last, but not least, Hoxworth Blood Center has contributed to the development and validation of “magic bullet” treatments using cell therapies against viral diseases in otherwise untreatable pediatric viral diseases.
Our research directly or through multiple scientific collaborations at local, state, national and international levels has made the Hoxworth Blood Center peer recognized nationally and internationally. The division’s findings have been published in prestigious, peer-reviewed, international journals including Nature, Nature Medicine, Cell Stem Cell, Cancer Cell, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Blood, Leukemia and Transfusion. These research projects have been mostly funded through extramural grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense of the United States, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North America, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the Heimlich Foundation and multiple other private foundations and corporations.
The U.S. Government through the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Department of Defense are major sources of public funding for research. However, applications for grant funding typically require the submission of data from initial studies that validate that the methods and models to be used work and preliminary tests of the hypothesis. Increased risk/high yield research cannot be funded through the normal pathways of Federal Government funding and require contributions from the community Hoxworth Blood Center serves.
In Hoxworth Blood Center and in collaboration with our partners Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, we are convinced that the next 10 years will profoundly change the way we practice medicine. The use of novel genomics tools and cell therapy approaches, the development of “magic bullet” targeted therapies which are highly effective and deprived of major toxicities are our objectives to help cure disease.
As a potential contributor towards disease eradication, we invite you to support us and contribute to our research endowment fund to support regenerative medicine research in our community.
From the depths of our hearts and for the patients we serve, thanks for your contributions.