The hematological cell therapy unit (U.T.C.H.) is a platform dedicated to translating new cell therapies into reliable and effective treatment that increases the survival rate of cancer patients as a result of innovative approaches. The unit's functioning is closely integrated with that of the apheresis unit upstream and the clinical transplantation service downstream. It also cooperates with the translational research units in developing new cellular products for clinical usage. We provide the Institute as a whole with the expertise that is essential for implementing and developing cellular immunotherapy.
The cell therapy platform is a unit that complies with GMP standards for the collecting, processing (including selection, expansion, freezing, etc. of cells), control, storage and delivery of several cell types, including hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal cells, lymphocytes and dendritic cells. It has three banks with FAMHP (Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products) accreditation: the hematopoietic stem cell bank, the therapeutic cell bank, accredited since 2009, under the inspection programme (Joint Accreditation Committee of the ISCT and EBMT or JACIE), and the ULB's umbilical cord blood bank, accredited by the US agency FACT ((Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy). Our accreditations certify work that complies with high quality standards and enable us to continuously improve quality within the various teams involved in carrying out hematopoietic transplants and in cellular therapy in general. Due to the considerable increase in our activity the umbilical cord blood bank has already been transferred to a temporary facility on the Anderlecht site (ULB campus and Erasmus hospital) while awaiting the inauguration of our permanent premises within the New Bordet.
Our expertise has also enabled us to develop close cooperation with small biotech companies active in developing innovative therapies. We provide them with the opportunity to benefit from professional services ranging from access to an accredited cell therapy unit when carrying out their clinical trials to the services of consultants when optimising new products.
Given the dramatic growth of immunotherapy the Institute has also decided to invest in a huge unit complying with GMP standards in its new buildings at the New Bordet. This new unit should enable us to meet the challenge of new cellular immunotherapies and to meet the needs both of the Institute and of its potential academic and private collaborators.
The cell therapy unit manages:
The cord blood bank:
The umbilical cord blood bank contains more than 1000 cryopreserved cords destined for allogenic transplants depending on register demand. Our bank networks with the various international registers and our cord blood is available for all Belgian or foreign patients who need it. Umbilical cord blood has been used for bone marrow transplants since 1989. The blood bank is kept supplied thanks to our close cooperation with maternity units accredited for donation and the generosity of parents who agree to donate. Donations are anonymous. The gynaecologist takes the cordon blood immediately after the baby's birth as soon as the cord is cut. There is no harm to either the baby or the mother. The cord blood taken is frozen and conserved until it is needed by a patient for a transplant.
The hematopoietic stem cell bank:
The bank contains about 2000 grafts taken from patients who may one day be in need of an autologous transplantation. These are principally patients suffering from lymphomas and myelomas.
The bank conserves the stem cells for the IRIS-ULB network as a whole. In the majority of cases the patients from which hematopoietic cells have been taken receive an autologous transplantion within a year of the graft being taken.
For allogenic transplants from a family donor or register, the cells pass through the bank but are used immediately, only surplus stem cells being frozen for possible subsequent use for the same patient, even if several years later. In the case of semi-compatible (haploidentical) transplants, to cross the barrier of incomplete compatibility (50% compatible), the cell therapy unit uses strategies of lymphocyte depletion of the graft to prevent the graft reacting against the host (graft versus host disease : GVHD).
Therapy cell bank:
More recently, the therapy cell bank has faced the new challenge of immunotherapy. The bank is accredited for preparing and storing mesenchymal and dendritic cells for the production of anti-tumoural "vaccines" and specific antigenic lymphocytes (anti-viral or anti-tumoural). In this connection, the Bordet Institute is participating in the clinical trial for the NKR-2 candidate product, a cellular immunotherapy developed by a Belgian biotechnology company.
Cell therapy is a treatment strategy that uses cells and that seeks to replace, repair or modify the biological activity of a damaged organ or tissue. It is known as cellular immunotherapy when the therapeutic weapon used is immune system cells (especially lymphocytes). These can be autologous lymphocytes (taken from the patient), which must be activated or modified in advance in the laboratory, or allogenic lymphocytes (taken from a donor).
Every day our immune system eliminates cancer cells, thereby avoiding the appearance of tumours. But due to a number of factors, not all of which have been identified, at a certain moment it stops fulfilling this mission and allows cancer cells to multiply. In most situations, after conventional treatment our immune system is unable to eradicate the residual cancer cells that survive chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. A balance can be established between the cancer and the immune cells resulting in a clinical remission that can last several months or years. If this balance is broken, there is a return of the cancer. The high rate of recurrence in cancers shows the frequent ineffectiveness of the immune system in ultimately controlling the residual cancer cells. In this context, cellular immunotherapy aims to strengthen the immune reactions against the cancer and thereby achieve the final eradication of the disease.
Immunotherapy can be used alone to treat certain cancers but in most cases it seems to be more effective if used in combination with other types of treatment.
Our team provides medical and paramedical training specific to the techniques of GMP handling of cell products for interns seeking to spend time at the unit.
A Phase III, multicenter, randomized controlled study to compare safety and efficacy of a haploidentical HSCT and adjunctive treatment with ATIR101, a T-lymphocyte enriched leukocyte preparation depleted ex vivo of host alloreactive T-cells, versus a haploidentical HSCT with posttransplant cyclophosphamide in patients with a hematologic malignancy
- Project leader : Philippe Lewalle
- Collaborations : KIADIS pharma
A multinational open-label dose escalation Phase I/II study to assess the safety and clinical activity of multiple administrations of NKR-2 in patients with different metastatic tumor types.
- Project leaders : Ahmad Awada
- Collaboration : Celyad
Head of the Department of Hematology
Pr Dominique Bron
Director of the Cell Therapy Unit and Banks Manager
Pr Philippe Lewalle
Scientific Director of the Cell Therapy Unit
DrSc Alain Delforge
Coordinator of the Cell Therapy Unit
Cell Therapy Unit Qualitician
Technicians at the Cell Therapy Unit
Marie-José Concepcion Caballero
Mesenchymal stromal cells and natural killer cells: a complex story of love and hate.
Authors : Najar M, Fayyad-Kazan M, Merimi M, Burny A, Bron D, Fayyad-Kazan H, Meuleman N, Lagneaux L
Year : 2019
Journal : Curr Stem Cell Res Ther
Volume : 14(1)
Pages : 14-21
Obinutuzumab plus Lenalidomide (GALEN) for the treatment of relapse/refractory aggressive lymphoma: a phase II LYSA study.
Authors : Houot R, Cartron G, Bijou F, de Guibert S, Salles GA, Fruchart C, Bouabdallah K, Maerevoet M, Feugier P, Le Gouill S, Tilly H, Casasnovas RO, Moluçon-Chabrot C, Van Den Neste E, Zachee P, Andre M, Bonnet C, Haioun C, van Hoof A, Van Eygen K, Molina L, Nicolas-Virelizier E, Ruminy P, Morschhauser F
Year : 2019
Journal : Leukemia
Volume : 33
Pages : 776-780
MiR302c, Sp1, and NFATc2 regulate interleukin-21 expression in human CD4+CD45RO+ T lymphocytes.
Authors : El-Said H, Fayyad-Kazan M, Aoun R, Borghol N, Skafi N, Rouas R, Vanhamme L, Mourtada M, Ezzeddine M, Burny A, Fayyad-Kazan H, Badran B
Year : 2019
Journal : J Cell Physiol
Volume : 234
Pages : 5998-6011
Determining clinically important differences in health-related quality of life in older patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy or surgery.
Authors : Quinten C, Kenis C, Decoster L, Debruyne PR, De Groof I, Focan C, Cornelis F, Verschaeve V, Bachmann C, Bron D, Luce S, Debugne G, Van den Bulck H, Goeminne JC, Baitar A, Geboers K, Petit B, Langenaeken C, Van Rijswijk R, Specenier P, Jerusalem G, Praet JP, Vandenborre K, Lycke M, Flamaing J, Milisen K, Lobelle JP, Wildiers H
Year : 2019
Journal : Qual Life Res
Volume : 28
Pages : 663-676
Sweet's syndrome induced by pegfilgrastim during a myelodysplastic syndrome AREB2: A case report.
Authors : Nelis S, Azerad MA, Drowart A, Lewalle P, Efira A
Year : 2019
Journal : Rev Med Interne
Volume : 40
Pages : 258-261