Have you heard about the latest technology in health? Gene therapy is a new and innovating technology that modifies an individual’s genes in order to cure diseases. According to research, many diseases are shown to have been caused by genetic mutations as patients who suffer from genetic disorders are in favor of testing the new development.
Many people are already in favor of implementing gene therapy as it will help save many lives that range from terminal illness as well as benefit the quality of life for those who suffer from genetic disorders – both terminal and non-terminal.
This highly-promising process is currently undergoing studies to help cure conditions from genetic disorders to HIV and even cancer. However, despite the medical advances, gene therapy will only be allowed to perform at a handful of high-technology clinics by highly-trained staff. This could mean that the treatment itself may not be accessible to thousands, if not millions of lives it has the potential to save.
Gene Therapy in a Box
Gene therapy in a box is a table-top device that was previously developed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It is said to provide genetic therapy treatments without the high expense and medical infrastructure that is currently needed.
According to a study that was published in Nature Communications, it was found that the device produces stem cells that were just as good, if not better, than cells that were prepared in a traditional setting. The device also requires less than half the expected staff that is needed for the conventional methods of gene therapy. Results have also shown that the device could play a large role in developing countries, especially in areas with high rates of HIV.
So, what exactly does it involve?
Gene therapy involves removing blood stem cells from the blood sample of the patient. The stem cells will then multiply then be genetically altered using a virus. The altered stem cells are then returned directly to the patient’s blood through IV.
Usually, this process requires special pieces of equipment, clean room, and hours of work by the staff. Whereas the new device can be used in the same room while saving time, space and even staff.
What are the major differences between the Point-of-Care Approaches versus the Current Infrastructure?
For the point-of-care approach, the entire process takes around 34 hours, whereas the traditional method lasts up to 86 hours.
Point-of-Care Approach (POC)
1. The patient’s cell item is received at the POC as a semi-automatic device. It is used to perform the preparation, of stem cell isolation, and genetic transfer. This step alone lasts thirty hours.
2. The next step is to test samples of the final cell product for infusion safety. This step takes about two hours at most.
3. The last step is to infuse the cells back into the patient. The waiting time requires two hours to complete the process.
1. First, the patient cell product transfers to a cGMP compliant facility – lasting nearly two hours.
2. A staff of individuals will manually prepare the patient’s product for the given stem cell isolation. This step takes at least three to six hours.
3. The stem cell isolation is then performed on an old technology with a small interface. This step requires at least one hour.
4. The stem cells will then be isolated manually cultured during the genetic transfer. This process requires highly-trained staff and a clean room. This step takes about two to three days.
5. Once the samples are obtained through manufacturing, the samples will be subjected to testing for infusion safety. This step requires at least two hours.
6. Once the samples have passed the injection test, the cell will be transferred back to the patient for infusion – taking a maximum of three hours.
What are the costs?
The finished POC device costs about $150,000 with an additional $26,000 for the kit of materials for one treatment. While the price may sound a bit high for most people, this method cost much less than the required amount for the cost of operating, staff, clean room, as well as the lifelong treatment for HIV.
The device itself has shrunk the necessary space from 500 square feet to less than 5 square feet. With the traditional method, the staff requires about five to ten individuals while the device only requires a maximum of two.