For today’s blog, I am going to walk you through one of the most important procedures I complete as a manufacturing technician at Hope Biosciences. Get ready for the science and emotion that goes into the processing of each and every adipose tissue sample we receive!
So you may be wondering: Why Fat? The simplest answer is that everyone has it and it is easily accessible! The manufacturing process for every adult master cell bank begins after a minimally invasive and painless mini-liposuction procedure in which a small sample of adipose tissue (fat) is extracted. Adipose tissue is a specialized connective tissue found right under the skin. The main function of the adipose tissue is to store energy in the form of lipids, which is body fat that compromises about 20 – 25% body weight of a healthy individual. Following extraction, the sample is transferred from the plastic surgery clinic to Hope Biosciences for quality testing. From there, the raw tissue is processed and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are isolated and grown by highly skilled technicians in our state of the art laboratory.
Now let’s get into some details. The adipose tissue sample arrives at Hope Biosciences and quality control immediately begins their testing on the sample before handing it over to the manufacturing team. The raw adipose tissue comes in a few syringes, as you can see illustrated in the image below. The syringes are a mixture of blood, extracellular matrix, and adipose tissue. The adipose tissue contains many different cells such as; preadipocytes, fibroblasts, capillary endothelial cells, macrophages, and what we’re interested in: MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS! As a manufacturing technician, it is my job to isolate those mesenchymal stem cells from the sample and ultimately create a cell culture that is grown and preserved in a master cell bank as well as a working cell bank, from which treatments can be produced.
Adipose tissue processing is a critical procedure; this is where it all begins. Using our proprietary technology and standard operating procedure, I am able to successfully extract mesenchymal stem cells from the sample and start a stem cell culture in a flask. I guess it sounds pretty simple when you put it that way. In reality, this procedure actually takes about two to three hours and requires precision and great attention to detail. Processing the tissue is arguably the most pivotal step in the entire manufacturing process. I would be lying if I said that I don’t get a little nervous or anxious every time I have to process adipose tissue, not because I have any doubt in my skills or knowledge, but because that person is depending on us to successfully bank their stem cells. At the start of the adipose tissue process, the fat tissue must be transferred from its non-sterile original containers to sterile ones. This step requires an immense amount of hand control and coordination as to not lose any of the sample. After transferring the tissue, we use proprietary reagents to isolate the mesenchymal stem cells, removing the unnecessary substances like blood, oil, or any extracellular particles.
Once we isolate the mesenchymal stem cells, we seed them into a small flask where the stem cells will adhere to the bottom surface and start to grow in our HB-101 Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Growth Media. We usually have to wait about 24 – 48 hours before we are able to see any cells adhere to the flask under the microscope. The anticipation kills me every time! This culture is known as the P0 culture, as it is the very first culture after extraction. Technicians, such as myself, will care for, feed, and observe the cells every other day until the flask is full and they are ready to be passaged and cryopreserved. The entire process, from the day of adipose tissue processing to the completion of the master and working cell bank, takes approximately one month.
I process adipose tissue quite often, and the process is uniform across all batches, so it becomes easier and easier the more I do it. Unfortunately, it also becomes easier to lose sight of the true purpose of the work. When I receive an adipose tissue sample, I receive the syringes tagged with a unique identification number for that patient. That is all I get to see. I do not see the person, their face, their condition, or their name. Being inside of a cleanroom fully gowned from head to toe causes us to get caught up in our daily tasks and work-life that we forget the life changing impacts our treatments can bring to patients and their family. Sometimes we are a person’s last hope, and they are depending on my team to be able to create and deliver this treatment to them. We do not have machines or robots or any technological device doing our job. We process every adipose tissue sample, hand care for every culture, and we make every dosage ourselves. This is only a small insight of what technicians do at Hope Biosciences. Just know that if you ever bank with Hope Biosciences, your stem cells will be personally cared for by the capable hands of our wonderful manufacturing team!