Bone Marrow Handling at ART – (aka the ARTstem process)

Welcome back readers!  Today I am going to tell you a bit about what happens here at the lab once we receive your bone marrow.  I think we should tell the story from the point of view of a vet, if you happen to be the owner your job is to call your vet and get these updates!  Here we go….

OK! You have found a candidate for stem cell therapy, and have decided to use ART to culture your stem cells.  Now what?  Well first off you need to schedule an appointment to draw a bone marrow aspirate from the patient.  I will skip the details of that step (if you really want to see them click our getting started page and find the appropriate protocol for your needs).  After the aspiration, you want to package the bone marrow and blood-lots and lots of blood, we use the serum to freeze your cells, so don’t short us!—and overnight it to us at the lab.

The next morning at the lab is like Christmas, here is your package all ready for the unwrapping!  We remove the contents and the first order of business is to match your submission form (you included that one right? Here is the link to get a submission form,CanineEquine) to your syringes full of bone marrow and blood.  Once we ensure we have a match, we put the bone marrow into a few centrifuge tubes.  We collect all the nucleated cells from the bone marrow and give them a count.  Then we place the nucleated cells into a cell culture flask, along with some growth medium, and stick them in the incubator.  Now for the fun part- we send along a detailed e-mail form that lists all of the information on your submission form, and how awesome your draw was.

Fast forward about a week.  We have been checking on your cells each day, anxiously awaiting the stem cells to show their happy little selves.  Stem cells like to be close to each other, so they have aggregated together into colonies, where they then divide and multiply until we can see the colony under a microscope.  When the colonies become visible, and we can see several of them in the flask, we “pick them up”.  This process is where we enzymaticaly remove the stem cells from the flask and put them in a small volume so we can get a count.  We place them into a new flask appropriate to the number of cells we counted (so they can be close to each other and happy).  Then we get to talk with you again!  We let you know that your stem cells are healthy and growing.  At this point we can usually determine how much longer until we will have a therapeutic dose ready to ship to you.

Fast forward another week or so.  We have still been checking on your stem cells every day, making sure that if they need attention we give it to them.  At some point in the first 2-3 days after pick up, we moved your cells into the large flasks for final expansion.  Once the cells have completely covered the bottom of these large flasks it is time to cryopreserve them.  We again enzymaticaly remove the cells, put them all into one big tube, and give them a count.  Dependant on your application, we aliquot the cells into 5 million or 10 million cell aliquots.  These go into a special cryopreservation container and into a -80 degree Celsius freezer for several hours.  The stem cells end up in “frozen caveman mode”-just resting and waiting- so when you thaw them they are ready to go to work in the animal! We let you know that the stem cells have been cryopreserved and are ready for shipment.

Now you, the veterinarian, schedule the appointment for injection.  We ship the cells to you, frozen on dry ice, via priority overnight shipment.  Keep this in mind, as we can’t ship for a Monday appointment.  Let us know when your appointment is and if you have a preferred carrier (UPS or FedEx).  We will get the cells shipped out to you, and e-mail you a tracking number for the shipment.

Viola!  You are now an expert on the ARTstem process!  We can’t wait to do our next case with you!

Disclaimer: Advanced Regenerative Therapies is a commercial veterinary stem cell expansion company.  Information contained within this blog is solely for the general knowledge of the reader.  We do not diagnose any health problems, nor is this information meant to diagnose any health problems or substitute the judgment of a licensed veterinarian.