NEWS | August 20, 2015

New York Blood Center partners with UC Davis Health System to produce more viable stem cell therapies


New York Blood Center (NYBC) today announced a new collaboration with the University of California, Davis, Health System to manufacture specialized lines of stem cells as potential therapies for repair and regeneration of retina, kidney, lung and liver tissue, as well as for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.

UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures

The new collaboration, through NYBC's Milstein Cord Blood Center, is funded by the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation. The initiative, which brings together the resources and knowledge of two leading institutions in stem cell research, will be led by Pablo Rubinstein, vice president of NYBC and program director of National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) at the Milstein Cord Blood Center, and Jan Nolta, director of the UC Davis Stem Cell Program and the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures.

Under the two-year agreement, UC Davis will produce induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from homozygous units from New York Blood Center's umbilical cord blood bank. Cord blood units contain adult stem cells collected from umbilical cord blood donations after the birth and safe delivery of a baby.  NYBC's rare collection of homozygous units presents a unique opportunity to make iPSC lines that will be capable of making any human tissue and being matched to a large number of people. This will allow for vast new opportunities for future clinical use.

"It is with great pride that we announce this wonderful collaboration," said Howard P. Milstein, chairman of the Board of New York Blood Center, "This partnership signals the next step in the advancement of regenerative medicine, which has already saved thousands of lives worldwide, with the potential to save many millions more."

"Regenerative medicine is the next frontier of medical science," Milstein added. "It will ultimately give doctors the ability to repair or replace every major organ in the human body."

"What is exciting about this collaboration is that we are working on therapeutic stem cells whose genetic make-up may avoid the problem of transplant immune rejection and thus could benefit many patients of different ages, sexes and racial groups," said Nolta. "Using our Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility, we will manufacture stem cell lines that can be used as source material to develop new treatments for previously untreatable diseases and conditions.”

Nolta added: "NYBC's accomplishments in creating and nurturing cord blood banking were made possible through its long tradition of innovation in medical biotechnology, thanks to the outstanding dedication of Dr. Rubenstein and his staff, the commitment of NYBC's president, Dr. Christopher Hillyer, and the visionary leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Howard Milstein."

With an ability to repair damaged tissue and develop into specialized cells and organs, stem cells will have a major impact in medicine and health care. This translation of basic scientific discoveries into novel therapies and clinical practices is a hallmark of research at UC Davis. The university’s Stem Cell Program and its Institute for Regenerative Cures (a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine) bring together resources from across the university to ensure that bench research—the work done in laboratories—can be translated successfully into clinical treatments.

NYBC stem cells offer unique opportunities for successful treatment

Starting with the largest public cord blood repository in the nation, the Milstein National Cord Blood Center has more of the very rare homozygous stem cell units than any other institution. Because each person's immune system is set up to reject things that it doesn't recognize, the NYBC's cells represent a unique opportunity in regenerative medicine, since NYBC's haploidentical cord blood units offer a way to create stem cells that look harmless to the immune systems of many people. NYBC's cord blood cells are homozygous, which means they have the same ABC alleles for the histocompatibility antigens and can be more easily matched with recipients for successful bone marrow and organ transplantations. The homozygous cord blood stem cells isolated from NYBC's frozen units will be regressed to a more "pluripotent" (primitive) state by a mixture of factors that UC Davis scientists add at their GMP facility in Sacramento. Generation of only 100 iPSC lines from homozygous cord blood units could provide a match for approximately 80 percent of Americans of European descent and 50-60 percent of the majority of other populations in the United States.

About National Cord Blood Program at the Howard P. Milstein Cord Blood Center

Launched in 1992, New York Blood Center's National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) at the Howard P. Milstein Cord Blood Center was the first umbilical cord blood bank established to collect, process, test and store cord blood units and make them available for transplantation to any patients in need of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The medical advances and technology developed at the New York Blood Center have been shared with doctors and hospitals throughout the world, and not only are saving the lives of people unable to find matches in the bone marrow registry in the United States, but also tens of thousands every year throughout the world. The NCBP has provided over 5,000 cord blood units for transplantation worldwide since its inception and, as a public cord blood bank, accepts requests from Transplant Centers and Registries worldwide. All NCBP Cord blood units can be accessed and searched directly through NCBP's Web Search, through Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW), the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and by calling 718-752-4710 or 866-767-6227.

NYBC's National Cord Blood Program and Dr. Rubinstein developed HEMACORD®, the first FDA-licensed hematopoietic stem cell product in the nation. HEMACORD® was awarded the prestigious "Best Biotechnology Product" Award by Prix Galien USA in October, 2014. The award recognizes "biomedical products that advance the human condition and which were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the past five years," according to the Galien Foundation. Through March 2015, NCBP has impacted lives by banking more than 60,000 cord blood units and provided over 5,300 cord blood units for transplantation to patients, and is the largest non-profit public cord blood bank in the world. More information can be found at

About New York Blood Center

Now more than 50 years old, New York Blood Center (NYBC) is one of the largest independent, community-based blood centers in the country, serving the more than 20 million people who live in the New York metropolitan area. Each year, NYBC provides approximately one million blood products to nearly 200 hospitals in the Northeast. In addition, NYBC's Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City (CBC) serves hospitals in the Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as eastern Kansas and western Missouri. CBC provides nearly 200,000 blood products per year to approximately 70 area hospitals.

NYBC also provides a wide array of transfusion-related medical services. NYBC is also home to the world's largest public cord blood bank, which provides stem cells for transplant in many countries, and a renowned research institute, which-among other milestones-developed the Hepatitis B vaccine and innovative blood purification technology. More information can be found at

About UC Davis Health System
UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. It is playing a leading role in regenerative medicine, with nearly 150 scientists working on a variety of stem cell-related research projects at campus locations in both Davis and Sacramento. The Institute for Regenerative Cures, a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is the university's hub for stem cell science. It includes Northern California's largest academic Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory, with state-of-the-art equipment and manufacturing rooms for cellular and gene therapies. More information can be found at

About the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation

The Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation is dedicated to taking on some of the most challenging issues facing the world today, in alignment with the principles of “Venture Philanthropy," which include: active engagement in organization and operations; encouraging an entrepreneurial approach to innovation and change; and finding and investing in leaders in the field. The Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation’s strategic gifts, institutional leadership and hands-on involvement stimulate innovation, create efficiencies and produce results. Howard and Abby participate financially, intellectually and emotionally in the organizations they support. Seven core areas have emerged from this vision: Medical Research, Biotechnology & Science; Higher Education & Youth; History; Religious and Communal Organizations; Arts & Culture; Law Enforcement & Homeland Security; and Civic Engagement. More information can be found at