Our phones will be down from 9-11 a.m. on Aug. 15. You can still leave us a message and we'll contact you as soon as possible.

Advanced therapies eyeing a steep upward curve

When Adrienne Mendoza looks at the potential for growth of advanced therapies in South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, she doesn’t see just a gradual upward growth.

The Vice President of Blood Operations sees the possibility for a steep exponential growth curve because of recent clinical successes in cell and gene therapies and the interest by market leaders in sourcing donations of starting cells from South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

“When you look at the potential for both new and existing customers developing these new therapies, each of these customers may find success in their clinical trials, and we will then see the next growth surge. It’s when our customers find success that we’re looking at the possibility for exponential growth,” she said.

STBTC Center for Advanced Therapies, along with GenCure and QualTex Laboratories, is part of the ever-­expanding field of cellular and immune therapies, assisting with various phases of research into therapies to cure chronic, debilitating and degenerative diseases.

“We’re already seeing more and more companies coming to us, and more of our existing customers bringing more projects to take on,” Mendoza said. “We are also seeing those customers provide referrals to others.”

The new department Center for Advanced Therapies includes the teams of life legacies tissue, cord blood and birth tissue, apheresis services and clinical research.

The Center for Advanced Therapies in STBTC is working with organizations developing new cell and gene therapies, helping researchers find cell donors to support each major stage of the clinical trials process that leads up to a new drug or biologic FDA approval.

The work includes building a database of donors interested in a chance to enroll in trials to support patients fighting for their lives and eager to see if donor cells can save their lives. Once selected, the donor is reimbursed for time and travel to support the trial. Anyone is welcome to sign up on the research study database.

“As Vivienne Marshall (Senior Director, Center for Advanced Therapies) puts it, we are now all about ‘care’ and ‘cure’ as an organization,” Mendoza said. “We take care of people who need blood donations, and now we’re helping advance research to cure diseases.”

STBTC already has supplied donations of specialized cells to several major clients, including for Phase 1 clinical trials for patients with cancers not responding to other treatments.

“When the trials progress to Phase 2, we’ll be providing even more donor cells – since the trials will expand to enroll more patients at more hospitals,” Mendoza said.

Cells from deceased donor tissue, as well as birth tissue, also have the potential to aid researchers in developing advanced therapies for a range of conditions from eye disease to cancer.

“It’s only a matter of time before this all starts to grow really fast,” Mendoza said. “Starting with our growth in the field, then all our existing customers growing, and finally new business growth. It just has worlds of potential.”