Press Release

Monday, 17 December 2018

Neues Blut dank neuer Technik

Advances made in blood cell production / MHH researchers pave the way for new therapy to combat infection / Publication in Nature Communications

Blood is very special stuff. It performs a variety of roles: for example, red blood corpuscles transport oxygen and their white counterparts ward off pathogens. Up to now, it has not been possible to artificially produce blood on a large scale, only to obtain it through donation. An interdisciplinary research team at Hannover Medical School (MHH) has now developed a novel technique: in bioreactors, different, mature blood cells can be generated continuously as required and harvested in a weekly cycle over a period of several months.

“Our technology is so efficient that we can, in only a few steps, apply our latest findings to larger, even more efficient bioreactors; enabling us to produce blood cells on an industrial and quality-controlled scale,” says Dr Nico Lachmann (MHH Institute of Experimental Haematology). Together with Dr Antje Munder (MHH Department of Paediatric Pulmonology, Allergology and Neonatology), Lachmann headed up this research work. The team published its findings in the renowned journal Nature Communications. The publication’s co-lead authors are Dr Mania Ackermann (MHH Institute of Experimental Haematology) and Dr Henning Kempf, a former co-worker of Dr Robert Zweigerdt (MHH Department of Cardiothoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery). The researchers produce the blood cells using what are known as human induced pluripotent stem cells. These are generated from normal body cells and can be differentiated into virtually any type of cell.

The team first used the new technology to produce macrophages – blood cells capable of destroying pathogenic bacteria in the body. They then successfully used these scavenger cells as an innovative therapy in an animal model: an acute lung infection in mice caused by Pseudomonas bacteria proved far milder when the animals were also administered with macrophages.

Pseudomonas bacteria are – according to a recent World Health Organization report – among the 10 most dangerous disease pathogens and present a serious threat to certain groups, such as people with cystic fibrosis. Multi-resistant pseudomonads are also a big problem for patients in intensive-care units. A macrophage therapy could be established as an antibiotic-independent treatment for these at-risk individuals. “Due to the ability of macrophages to fight bacteria, we think this new production procedure and the macrophage-based therapy could help combat many different bacterial infections, enabling us to pursue a new therapeutic approach,” Dr Ackermann comments.

These research activities were assisted by the REBIRTH Cluster of Excellence (From REgenerative BIology to Reconstructive THerapy), by the Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation, by the German Centre for Lung Research (DZL) and by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Further information is available from Dr Nico Lachmann, Tel. +49 (0)511 532 5266, lachmann.nico@mh-hannover.de.

A photo is included with this press release. It shows (from left) Dr Robert Zweigerdt, Dr Mania Ackermann, Dr Antje Munder and Dr Nico Lachmann in the lab. You may use this image free of charge in conjunction with the press release if you give ‘MHH/Kaiser’ as the source.

Download the press release (in German):
181214_Lachmann.pdf
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