Working Together, Finding Cures

Oklahoma Blood Institute Receives Research Award to Fund Further Studies

As reported by Business Wire

Biological Industries USA Announces Initial Winners of MSC Research Awards

Grants totaling over $65,000 to be issued to scientists working with mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of injury and disease

CROMWELL, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Biological Industries USA (BI-USA), a division of Biological Industries Beit Haemek Israel (BI) and providers of premium cGMP cell culture media and media manufacturing services to the academic, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries, announces the initial winners of its MSC Research Award, which was unveiled in January. The winners are scientists advancing the fields of cellular therapy and mesenchymal stem/stromal cell (MSC)-based research. The awards, totaling over $65,000 worth of BI-USA products and services, will fund studies aimed at creating xeno-free cGMP MSC Master Cell Banks, isolating and expanding MSCs from novel sources, manufacturing MSCs with increased immunomodulatory efficacy, and modifying MSCs to improve their ability to avoid immune cell attack and eventual rejection after transplantation.

The award recipients for the current round of funding include: Darren Hickerson, MS, MDiv, Associate Director of Manufacturing, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM); Jennifer Chain, PhD, Science Officer for Cellular Therapies, Oklahoma Blood Institute; James Ankrum, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa; and Yan Li, MD, Project Staff, Cleveland Clinic.

“The BI-USA MSC Award program recognizes the importance of using mesenchymal cells to advance much-needed translational research, which we feel can be accelerated by using defined, xeno-free, serum-free systems,” said Tanya Potcova, CEO of BI-USA. “We are very excited to watch the progress and are pleased to support each award winner’s important research as they move forward.”

About Biological Industries (BI)

Biological Industries ( is one of the world’s leading and trusted suppliers to the life sciences industry, with over 35 years’ experience in cell culture media development and GMP manufacturing. BI’s products range from classical cell culture media, to supplements and reagents for stem cell research and cell therapy applications, to serum and serum-free media products. BI is committed to a Culture of Excellence through advanced manufacturing and quality-control systems, regulatory expertise, in-depth market knowledge, and extensive technical customer-support, training, and R&D capabilities.

About Biological Industries USA (BI-USA)

Biological Industries USA ( is the US commercialization arm of BI, with facilities in Cromwell, Connecticut. Members of the BI-USA team share expertise and a history of innovation and success in the development of leading-edge technologies in stem cell research, cellular reprogramming, and regenerative medicine.

To receive ongoing BI communications, please join the email list or connect with the company at

Yes! Science! Features Dr. Jennifer Chain

Dr. Jennifer Chain featured in Yes! Science!

Our own Dr. Jennifer Chain was recently featured in Yes! Science! for her 20th anniversary as a scientist.  

Dr. Chain explains her role as Science Officer for Cellular Therapies at Oklahoma Blood Institute, where she is part of the organization's Bio-Development department.  At Oklahoma Blood Institute, Dr. Chain is starting a stem cell and cell therapy research and development laboratory.  The work Dr. Chain is doing will "lead to cutting-edge advancements in anti-cancer immunotherapies and regenerative medicine applications and increase the accessibility of these therapies to more patients." (source: Yes! Science!


LRS Chambers in Developing Cell Therapies

by Jennifer Chain, Ph.D.

At the Oklahoma Blood Institute, we collect more than 20,000 platelet donations each year. During routine collection, platelets are separated from other blood components by centrifugation. Leukoreduction system (LRS) chambers play a direct role in the cell reduction process used to collect the platelets. When the donation process is completed, red blood cells, white blood cells, and plasma are returned to the donor. However, a small volume of concentrated white blood cells remains inside the LRS chamber. These chambers are typically discarded, but if they are sterilely separated from the collection kit, the white blood cells contained within can be used in a whole host of research applications. Collecting these chambers and providing them to scientists for research purposes is one way Oklahoma Blood Institute is being good stewards of our donors’ gift of life-saving platelets.

We have analyzed a group of LRS chambers for the number of cells and the different cell types contained within. An average of 1.8x109 total nucleated cells (Table 1) are obtained from a single LRS chamber, with an average of 96.3% of those cells being lymphocytes and monocytes (Mononuclear Cells). CD3+ T cells make up between 30% and 65% of the total LRS chamber contents, depending in the individual. Other common subpopulations in these chambers are B cells, monocytes, and NK cells. CD3+ T cells are currently being used in cutting-edge cancer treatments called CAR T cell therapies, and both NK cells and gamma/delta T cells are emerging as potential cell types for future CAR therapies. The CD14+ monocyte population has the potential to develop into dendritic cells, which can be used to develop cancer vaccines. Laboratories and companies in the research phases of their therapy development can benefit from using cells from LRS chambers as a source of their lymphocyte and monocyte cell populations. OBI is currently developing technology to harvest the cells out of the LRS chamber in an FDA compliant way so these cells can be used directly in allogeneic clinical applications.



Check Out the NEW Bio-Linked.Org

Bio-Linked is an electronic roster of people willing to help researchers find cures and treatments.  You submit a confidential, self-managed profile of only the medical and social information you are willing to offer.  This allows your participating blood center to then anonymously search to find people who meet research needs.  Our updated website,, has a detailed series of profile questions for registrants to answer.  Our registrants are interested in research for cancer, diabetes, infectious disease, auto-immune disorders and more.  In Oklahoma, diabetes and Alzheimer's research is being conducted right now utilizing participants from Bio-Linked, and more study participants are being sought.  For potential participants, filling out the new BIOPROFILE is key, so that scientists can narrow or widen their search for study participants as necessary to conduct their clinical research.  The questions within the bioprofile may change, so returning to update the bioprofile occasionally is recommended.


Your information is stored in a private, secure database used to locate people with specific medical, family and social backgrounds that match-up with research opportunities.


Only you and a few restricted staff at our blood centers can see your answers. Your information will never, be shared with anyone else, unless you give written consent. You have trusted us as a blood donor, and we will never break that trust.


Scientists contact our blood center for help with clinical trials and basic research. The researchers are often looking for people with very specific conditions or symptoms. When a researcher contacts the blood center, we will search the Bio-Linked database to see if anyone matches the need. If an individual is a fit, we will contact that person and ask if he or she is interested in participating.


If you have previously registered, you can request your HLA results by contacting our HLA administrations If you have not yet registered, you can become a life-saving participant by visiting Be The Match®.


Absolutely not! If you match a researcher’s need, one of our staff will contact you. If you have any interest in participating, we will explain what is needed, and how that may affect you. The choice to move forward is completely yours. Unless you agree, the researcher will never know your identity.


Possibly, but each research project is different. Some, but not all have budgets for paying participants.


To expand our life-saving mission! There are more than 16,000 clinical studies occurring at any one time in the United States. These studies could provide cures or treatments for diseases that affect our friends and neighbors. This progress is often delayed many years because scientists cannot locate people to participate in their research. By helping researchers locate willing participants, we are doing our part in bringing new hope to patients as soon as possible.

Magic of the Mesenchymal Stromal Cell

by Jennifer Chain, Ph.D.

A specialized type of stem cell called a mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) is primarily found in bone marrow, and to a lesser extent in placenta, fat, teeth, and blood. These cells have the potential to develop into many tissue types throughout the body like bone, cartilage, muscle, and skin. They also control immune responses, promote wound healing, and support tissue regeneration. Inside the bone marrow, MSCs provide support for hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) development into blood cells. The diverse developmental potential and functions of MSCs make them ideal for a wide variety of therapeutic uses.

There are thousands of research and clinical studies underway analyzing the ability of MSCs to prevent transplant graft attack on host tissue, control the development of autoimmune diseases, and promote tissue healing from heart attack, stroke, spinal cord injuries, liver disease, chronic wounds, and many other injuries and disorders. However, it is currently difficult to obtain enough MSCs to meet the growing demand for research and therapy use.

To address this problem, the Oklahoma Blood Institute is partnering with LifeShare of Oklahoma to collect bone marrow from deceased tissue donors, grow MSCs from bone marrow in our facilities, and make MSCs available to our community scientists for use in research and therapy development. In Oklahoma Blood Institute's Bio-Development Division, we are conducting several research studies to grow and characterize MSCs from deceased donors and demonstrate their potential for therapy use. This work will increase the supply of MSCs available to clinical scientists to use in therapies focused on wound healing and tissue regeneration, as well as for treatments of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

HLA Match: Key to Unlock a Cure

The cutting edge of many new medical advances involves using the body's own immune cells in new ways.

For these therapies to work, scientists often need to make a "tissue match," also known as an "HLA match" between the treatment cells and a patient.  By including your HLA type as part of your Bio-Linked profile, you can put yourself at the front of the line to be part of amazing discoveries and life-changing cures!

If you are signed up to be a marrow donor through the Be The Match registry, you have your HLA typing information on file with the National Marrow Donor Program.

By simply sending a request to, you can request a copy of your HLA results.  Once you receive your report, we now have an area for you to input this important data into your Bio-Linked profile.  Please help speed our research efforts by making this critical upgrade to your profile!

If you know your HLA type from a lab work done from a source other than Be The Match. that would be equally valuable.

For your reference it is usually provided in a format similar to one shown below.

Oklahoma Blood Institute Collects Blood Stem Cells for Treatments

by Jennifer Chain, Ph.D.

Hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) are stem cells that develop into all the cells circulating in the blood—both red and white blood cell types. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues of the body. White blood cells make up the body’s immune system to defend against bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and cancer. HPCs are found in the bone marrow. When they receive specific signals from surrounding cells, they can develop into B cells, NK cells, dendritic cells, macrophages, neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, or megakaryocytes. In some cases, HPCs migrate out of the bone marrow into the blood and to an organ called the thymus, where they develop into T cells. Although HPCs are primarily found in the bone marrow, they can also be found in very small numbers in the blood of adults. The immune system is still under development in newborn babies, therefore, many HPCs can be found in the blood within the umbilical cord (cord blood). HPCs are easily identified by their expression of a molecule on their surface called CD34. This molecule helps the cells attach to surfaces inside the bone marrow, blood vessels, and the thymus. CD34 also helps scientists isolate HPCs from blood and bone marrow to use for stem cell transplants.

When a patient needs to replenish their immune system after cancer treatment, they will receive a stem cell transplant. These transplants contain HPCs from themselves (if obtained before chemotherapy treatment) or from a typed-matched donor. Historically, only whole bone marrow containing HPCs was used for transplant. Significant advances have been made to the standard bone marrow transplantation technique. First, a drug called Filgrastim is used to stimulate the HPCs to come out of the bone marrow and into the blood. In this case, HPC-rich blood is collected and transplanted. Also, cord blood donated by mothers following the birth of their children is also becoming a reliable source of HPCs for transplant. Since scientists can isolate HPCs by the CD34 molecule on their surface, studies are underway to test the safety and efficacy of transplanting only the HPCs and none of the other immune cells found in the blood and bone marrow.

Oklahoma Blood Institute is assisting in all areas of stem cell transplantation. Oklahoma Blood Institute collects HPC-rich blood products for the National Marrow Donor Program, which is used for typed-match stem cell transplants. Oklahoma Blood Institute is also establishing the first public cord blood bank in Oklahoma to provide another needed source of HPCs for stem cell transplants. It is also participating in a national clinical trial to isolate CD34+ HPCs to be used for transplantation.

In addition to collecting and processing clinical products to be used for stem cell transplants, we are also collecting and processing HPC-rich blood and bone marrow for research projects. Oklahoma Blood Institute is currently recruiting donors for these research projects. If you would like to participate in research by donating blood or bone marrow, sign up at

OMRF, Oklahoma Blood Institute Partner to Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the Oklahoma Blood Institute have joined forces to combat rheumatoid arthritis.
The institutes will utilize OBI’s new software system, Bio-Linked, to match willing blood donors with researchers at OMRF to build a volunteer group for StopRA, an innovative U.S.-based prevention trial for rheumatoid arthritis, which is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, through their Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence program.


Judith James, M.D., Ph.D.


Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a chronic illness characterized by inflammation of the lining of the joints. The symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, and ultimately the disease can result in loss of function and disability. While little is known about how RA develops, studies show some people at risk for the disease can be identified through testing for an autoantibody called ‘anti-CCP.’
“We know that individuals with this protein in their blood are at a higher risk,” said Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., StopRA investigator, OMRF’s Vice President of Clinical Affairs and chair of the foundation’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. “But we didn’t know how we could screen a large number of healthy individuals to see if they’re walking around with this risk factor to address the disease before it develops. That led to this beautiful partnership with OBI.”
OBI’s Bio-Linked initiative has made this early screening possible. Unveiled in late 2016, Bio-Linked is a unique software system in which OBI’s generous blood donors are matched with medical research projects like StopRA.
“This was created because we know there is a great need for people who are willing to participate in research,” said OBI Vice President of Quality Management and New Business Ventures Charles Mooney. “Our blood donors are the perfect people to recruit to do research because they are responsive, they care and they are willing to step up to do what needs to be done.”
This partnership allows blood donors to sign up to have some of their extra serum submitted as blinded or de-identified samples to be tested for specific antibodies associated with RA. If they test positive for the CCP antibody, OMRF will contact OBI, who will reach out to the donors with more information about the study.
In the first 6 weeks of the new arrangement between OBI and OMRF, more than 3,000 people agreed to have their blood tested for the anti-CCP antibody. Out of that group, about 40 people had the risk factor and were contacted by OBI. Nearly all of them subsequently contacted OMRF to inquire about the trial.
James said the goal of the trial is to assess whether early treatment can prevent these individuals from ever becoming RA patients.
Coming off the promising initial response, OMRF and OBI are working to secure funding for another round of screening.
“It is enormously rewarding for the Oklahoma Blood Institute to partner with Dr. James and OMRF in their valuable rheumatoid arthritis research,” said OBI President and CEO John Armitage, M.D. “Our donors have always been amazingly generous in giving blood to care for patients, but through this study, they are helping find ways to prevent disease symptoms from ever appearing in people with risk factors. This is a perfect public health collaboration whereby our healthy and willing volunteers are matched with brilliant scientists looking for people to help them unlock new medical treatments.”  
If you are interested in participating in StopRA or would like more information, please call (405) 271-7221 or email For more information on OBI’s Bio-Linked initiative, visit
“Preventing this disease from taking off would be life-changing not only for the individuals, but also their friends and families,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “This powerful partnership positions us to do something about it.”

In the news: 

NewsOK: Oklahoma Blood Institute keeps changing with the times

NewsOK: OMRF, OBI partner to fight rheumatoid arthritis

News9: Donating blood could help identify risk for arthritis


About OMRF

OMRF ( is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human diseases. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as cancer, diseases of aging, lupus and cardiovascular disease.

About OBI
Oklahoma Blood Institute is a non-profit, independent blood center now serving more than 160 hospitals, medical facilities and air ambulances throughout Oklahoma.


Copyright © 2017 Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, All rights reserved.


Bio-Linked Defined

Bio-Linked is groundbreaking software developed exclusively by Oklahoma Blood Institute that matches extraordinary people with the nation’s most promising medical research.

16,000 clinical studies are occurring daily, but progress is delayed when scientists cannot locate willing participants.  Built from a network of blood collectors, Bio-Linked provides scientists with a unique database of potential participants.

“Bio-Linked is a ‘’ for researchers who need people to help them further their studies,” said John Armitage, M.D., president & CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute.  “It’s really the time in medicine to unlock the power of the individual, and we have so many generous individuals who unlock treatments.”

Using their donor identification number with their blood center, blood donors enroll in Bio-Linked online.  Bio-Linked contacts enrollees if they’re a match for a study, which may involve blood samples or voluntary participation.  All information is kept entirely confidential. 

 As one of the nation’s premier blood centers, Oklahoma Blood Institute is proud to introduce Bio-Linked and provide new hope for people battling serious illness.