What’s in a Batch Number?
A batch or lot number is any combination of letters and numbers which, when put together, creates a unique identification code. At Hope Biosciences, a batch number traces the complete history of an individual’s stem cells, including processing, packaging, holding, and distribution. Before the banking process begins, a unique batch number is created and assigned to each individual banker; this number identifies their stem cell culture throughout the entire manufacturing process and in the master and working cell banks. We could also think about it as a Social Security Number given to your stem cells when you bank with Hope Bio!
“We took this picture on Sam & Grace’s first birthday and I surprised myself when I realized that every single person in this picture had their own stem cells banked. For me, it was an ‘ah-ha’ moment. Every family should have this [peace of mind].” Donna Chang
As a manufacturing technician, batch numbers are how I refer to and keep track of stem cell cultures. In other words, if I am in the laboratory, I am “speaking batch number.” The attention to detail required inside of the laboratory cannot be understated — there is very little room for mistakes in what we do. I have to make sure I document all of the necessary and correct information for the handling of each and every batch. That is a lot of documentation! To give you an idea, I probably write down a batch number about 20 times within the span of an hour.
My daily lab work consists of tracking cell cultures and their schedule; caring for cell cultures through media changes, passages, and packaging; ensuring all calculations are correct; and verifying that we have enough prepared reagents for all of our manufacturing procedures. I also wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), remaining vigilant and mindful of proper aseptic technique to prevent contamination of any kind. PPE is my work attire and consists of wearing a face mask, hair net, hood, gown, shoe covers, boot covers, and double gloves, all of which are worn over my scrubs. I typically spend about 3 to 4 hours wearing this suit inside of a clean room surrounded by loud Bio Safety Cabinet (BSC) blowers, timers ringing, and cell counters clicking away. With so many distractions in the lab itself, it’s best to leave any outside distractive thoughts at the door because everything done in the lab requires absolute focus.
The Point of it All
Lab work technicalities can make it easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. When I say the “bigger picture,” I mean the people whom all of our hard work is ultimately for. It could be a dad unable to provide for his family because he is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. A mom who has developed Parkinson’s disease and has difficulty completing everyday tasks. A grandparent with Alzheimer’s disease who struggles to interact with their grandchildren. A child with cerebral palsy who is unable to eat on their own. Illness is far-reaching; it affects not only the patient but the loved ones around them as well. None of this information is included with a batch number; they do not come with a name, or a face, or a story. It could become too easy to forget the true meaning of a batch number — they represent real people with real lives.
A batch number is an identifier, part of an information tracking system, but it holds much more than that. A batch number holds hope, a cure, life changing solutions, and our vision, all of which are of far more significance than simple letters and numbers on a page.