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Family Bank: Next Biobank (Netcells)
Next Biobank is the cryopreservation division of Next Biosciences. The facility uses advanced technologies to store and preserve a wide range of human biological material for potential life-saving treatments and for the development of ground-breaking medical therapies. Despite being highly technical in nature, we never lose sight that our business is about families and safeguarding their future health. We, therefore, continually strive to deliver a personalised service that gives clients direct access to our in-house Medical Team to inform, guide, and reassure them every step of the way.
As part of the Next Biosciences group, Next Biobank has access to all the resources needed to remain at the leading edge of scientific, medical and technical advancements. We also benefit from Next Biosciences’ international partnerships and collaborations. Next Biosciences is committed to proving the highest quality standards and is internationally accredited by AABB for the banking of cord blood.
In line with the stated purpose of Next Biosciences, we believe in making the world a better place and serving humanity. To this end, we have launched a community-based umbilical cord stem cell storage service, giving more South Africans in need of life-saving transplants, a better chance of finding a match.
Next Biobank gives expectant parents two options when choosing to sore their baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells:
- Netcells Private Stem Cell Banking: Umbilical cord blood stem cells collected at birth are preserved exclusively for your child or family for potential life-saving treatments to help safeguard their future health. These samples are only HLA typed when needed and are stored in the Next Biosciences Laboratory.
- Netcells Community Stem Cell Banking: This umbilical cord blood stem cell banking option gives parents personal access to their samples, whilst also listing them on the South Africa Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), making their stem cells available to others in need of lifesaving transplants. These samples are HLA typed by SABMR and stored in the Next Biosciences Laboratory.
Labs and Locations
Next Biobank has a state-of-the-art laboratory with a Class 100,000 (ISO Class 7) Clean Room processing facility, situated in Midrand, Johannesburg. Next Biobank is internationally accredited with AABB for cord blood and was the first cord blood bank in Africa to receive this accreditation.
Next Biosciences is a leading South African biotech company which combines medicine, science and technology to invest in innovative health technologies, enabling people to take personal ownership of their future health. Next Biosciences’ group of companies are involved in the manufacturing of biological products, stem cell banking, genetic testing, and other pathology lab testing. Next Biosciences is ISO accredited and licenced by the Department of Health in South Africa. The company believes in a collaborative business approach to ensure that it accesses the best scientific minds and other key players in the industry to deliver our core purpose.
Next Biobank processed and stored its first cord blood sample in December 2006 and to date has stored for over 18,000 samples from South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.
The Next Biobank collection kit contains:
- a sterile blood collection bag with sterile cleaning material;
- a sterile collection tube containing phosphate buffered saline for collection of umbilical cord tissue;
- a thermal cool gel pack to encase the blood bag;
- a thermal insulated foil bag to store the blood bag and collection tube during transport;
- client identification stickers to place on the blood bag and collection tube once the samples are collected;
- all necessary client documentation including collection protocols, parent checklist etc. and
- maternal blood tubes for required donor screening tests.
Next Biobank uses the latest ambient temperature-controlled kits (not polystyrene boxes) to transport the cells to the laboratory. The Next Biobank collection kit contains a thermal insulated bag which ensures that the cord blood and tissue are maintained at a constant temperature throughout transport. The external box is labelled according to the AABB and IATA standards.
Next Biobank uses First Fright Medical to collect the cord blood and cord tissue samples and deliver them to the laboratory in Johannesburg. Next Biobank aims to get the stem cells to its laboratory within 24 hours after the birth of the baby. Should the stored stem cells ever be needed, Next Biobank has a cryogenic shipper with temperature monitoring that allows the cells to be transported in their cryopreserved state to a transplant centre anywhere in the world.
Next Biobank processes cord blood using PrepaCyte-CB® method. This technology yields higher recovery of stem cells, efficient reduction of red blood cells, and has the fastest patient recovery rates after transplants. The PrepaCyte-CB® reagent sediments red blood cells, allowing the recovery of the buffy coat from the supernatant. The buffy coat contains white blood cells including hematopoietic stem cells. A cryopreservative agent containing DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) is then added to the buffy coat which ensures that the cells are not damaged during the freezing process. Flow cytometric analysis is also performed to ensure sufficient numbers and viability of CD45+ and CD34+ (haematopoietic) stem cells have been collected for storage. All units are additionally tested for sterility and ABO blood grouping.
The buffy coat fraction of cord blood containing white blood cells and stem cells is collected in a small bag which is stored in a protective aluminium canister alongside two test cryovials.
Cord tissue is dissociated into small sections and stored in a cryoprotective agent in eight 1.5ml cryovials.
The cord blood stem cells are hermetically sealed in a cryogenic bag and encased in an aluminium cassette. This provides the cells with physical protection during storage and transit, but more significantly, the aluminium cassette is also fundamental to the success of the freezing process by providing a consistent heat path. The cells are then slowly and precisely frozen using a controlled rate freezer, which ensures that the cells are not mechanically damaged during the freezing process.
The dissected cord tissue sections are placed in cryovials with a cryoprotective agent and frozen using the same method as the cord blood.
All samples are initially stored in a quarantine tank in the vapour phase of cryogenic nitrogen and moved into final storage following confirmatory maternal blood tests.
Licensing & Accreditation
Next Biobank is accredited by the international authority AABB as well as ISO:13485 and provides state of the art cord blood and tissue banking.
Next Biobank has released 3 cord blood samples for transplant.
- In the unlikely event of anything ever happening to the stem cells, the maximum amount of any and all liability which Next Biobank may incur to the Client under any and all circumstances shall be the total amount paid by the Client to Next Biobank in terms of their contract.
- Next Biobank has an affiliation with Smart Cells International (UK’s longest established stem cell company), so that in the unlikely event of anything happening to Next Biobank, Smart Cells will take over storage of the stem cells.
- Netcells takes extreme measures to protect its stored stem cells:
- Sophisticated technology to monitor the facility and equipment 24 hrs a day automatically and remotely;
- A fire detection & suppression system;
- 24 hr camera surveillance;
- Fingerprint access control;
- UPS and a generator in case of electricity cuts;
- excess capacity of medical grade liquid nitrogen and electricity free storage;
- critical equipment duplication.
Families of Hope is a sibling cord blood donor programme which was introduced by Next Biobank in January 2016, giving potential future hope to disadvantaged families that have an older child diagnosed with a disease treatable by stem cell transplant. As of February 2022, Families of Hope has stored cord blood for 17 families with the diagnoses: 11 leukaemia, 2 aplastic anaemia, 1 Fanconi anaemia, 1 sickle-cell disease, 1 hyper-eosinophile syndrome, and 1 rhabdomyosarcoma.
With a 1-in-4 chance that full biological siblings will be a genetic match, a stem cell transplant could potentially provide a cure. This way, Next Biobank’s hope is to expand the opportunity to families who are faced with life-threatening diseases treatable with stem cells, but cannot afford to save their baby’s precious stem cells at birth.
How the ‘Netcells Families of Hope’ programme works:
If a disadvantaged child (affected sibling) requires a bone marrow stem cell transplant, and his/her mother is pregnant and expecting a full biological sibling (i.e., same father), Next Biobank will facilitate the collection of the umbilical cord blood at the time of delivery. They will then transport the umbilical cord blood to their laboratory to be processed, tested and stored. If the stem cells are a suitable HLA-type match, upon request by the affected sibling’s transplant physician, Next Biobank will transport the stem cells to the place of transplant within South Africa.
Next Biobank has committed to supporting 1 family for every 100 cord blood units that are privately banked.
Gynaecologists/Midwives who do cord blood collections for Next Biobank are also given the opportunity to donate their procedural fees to the programme, if they wish, increasing the number of families that could benefit. Next Biobank will work closely with CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation SA) to ensure that any unutilised funds from procedural fees donated by obstetricians will be directed to CHOC, as the ‘Netcells Families of Hope’ programme’s goals are closely aligned to theirs: Keeping more than hope alive.
Next Biobank offers 10 and 20 year storage options and has affordable interest free payment plans. Visit the easy-to-use pricing calculator to work out the exact cost and customer an option that works best for you: https://nextbio.co.za/pricing-calculator/