If you missed the news in August, Astarte Biologics merged with Key Biologics to become the leading provider of research- and clinical-grade human immune cells, blood products, and related services to the biopharmaceutical industry.

As part of the merger, we are now offering leukapheresis products directly to our customers for use in late-stage immunology research.

What Are Leukopaks?

The licensure of the first autologous cell-based therapy for cancer in 2010 (Provenge® for prostate cancer) proved the hypothesis that an individual’s own immune cells could be collected, processed to re-engage their innate immune response against the cancer, and reinfused to the patient to control the disease.

More recently, two other autologous cell-based therapies directed against hematologic malignancies have been approved: Yescarta® in 2017 and Kymriah® in 2018, both of which offer the prospect of curing the targeted cancers as single agents. Following these successes, interest in development of autologous and allogeneic cell-based therapies to target cancer and immune-mediated conditions has mushroomed.

Because the active ingredients in these therapies are living cells, researchers require a steady supply of targeted effector cells, specifically mononuclear cells (e.g. lymphocytes and monocytes) for use as raw materials for research and development. The cells are used to perfect all aspects of the cellular therapy manufacturing process including gene insertion, cell maturation, and differentiation and to confirm the reproducibility of the process to allow large scale production.  

These cells are usually sourced from healthy individuals by a process called leukapheresis. The collected product is commonly called a leukopak or leukopack consisting of plasma, very few red blood cells, some platelets, and 5 to 20 billion white blood cells depending on the volume of blood processed during the leukapheresis.

The products are usually packaged and shipped fresh overnight — either de novo or processed to remove contaminating platelets and/or red blood cells or to add autologous plasma to aid in viability — for use the morning after collection.

Do You Need a Leukopak?

With all that background information, how do you know if your research could benefit from leukopaks? Leukopaks might be right for you if:

  • You need a lot of cells from one donor, especially if you will be using those cells all at once
  • You are developing a cell-based therapy, whether CAR-T, CAR-NK, or dendritic cell vaccine (leukopaks are essential to working out the process, validating the process, and training production staff)

On the other hand, if you want to test multiple donors or if your experiments don’t require billions of PBMC, consider purchasing cryopreserved samples from several donors to understand the variation present in the population so that your experimental results are not biased due to the reliance on one donor. Even if you do need billions of PBMC, depending on your time and expertise, it may be worthwhile to have the cells cryopreserved by people who do it all the time in a reproducible way.

No matter what product is the best fit for you — leukopak; cryopreserved PBMC; or cryopreserved, purified cell populations — you can get it all with us.

Ready to Try Leukopaks in Your Lab?

Just submit a custom request with your specifications, and we will begin processing your order.


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