Randi and Brian Schwartz Family Cancer Immunotherapy and Cell Manipulation Facility
This state-of-the-art laboratory expands BIDMC’s clinical research capacity with the goal of accelerating the delivery of new immunotherapies to patients with cancer. The Center also serves as a manufacturing facility in which BIDMC's physician-scientists produce innovative immune-based treatments, including a promising experimental therapeutic vaccine against several forms of blood cancer.
To ensure the production of safe and effective therapeutic anti-cancer vaccines, the 3,400 square foot suite features three tissue culture rooms comprising 1,900 square feet of clean space designed to achieve "Good Manufacturing Practice" specifications.
Cancer Vaccine Manufacturing Step by Step
Our Center manufactures experimental therapeutics to treat several forms of blood cancer, including acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma. The vaccines created here stimulate the patient’s immune system to eliminate the disease. Many patients who have received cancer vaccines made at BIDMC are still in remission several years later. See the step-by-step manufacturing process below.
Tumor Cell Collection
In the Shapiro 7 clinic, tumor cells are collected through either a bone marrow aspiration or a blood draw (shown here).
The Process Begins
The patient’s blood or bone marrow is drawn into several syringes and prepared for transport to the hospital’s Schwartz Family Center Immunotherapy and Cell Manipulation Facility, where the vaccine will be made.
Isolation of the Tumor Cells
Schwartz Center lab techs place the bone marrow or blood specimens in a centrifuge. The spinning motion separates the marrow or blood into constituent parts, so the tumor calls can be isolated and stored.
Techs place the isolated tumor cells in vials and freeze them in liquid nitrogen freezers.
The patient receives standard of care treatment (usually chemotherapy).
Healthy Cell Collection
In the apheresis unit, tumor-free blood is removed from the patient through one arm. A centrifuge in the apheresis machine separates the blood into parts.
Healthy mononuclear blood cells are retained and the remainder of the blood is returned to the patient through the other arm.
Dendritic Cell Maturation
The healthy mononuclear cells are sent to the lab and plated in flasks. Techs add factors that mature them into dendritic cells.
Tumor cells are fused with dendritic cells to make the vaccine. Doctors review the stained cells for quality and fusion efficiency. In the image, the blue cells are dendritic cells, red are tumor cells and blue/red combinations (upper right) are vaccine cells. The fused cells are irradiated to prevent proliferation of the tumor cells, and frozen until needed.
Once the patient has completed all standard of care treatment and is ready to receive vaccinations, vials of fused cells are thawed and taken to the outpatient clinic where they are delivered to the body through injection in the thigh. Typically, an acute myeloid leukemia patient receives three vaccinations that are given at monthly intervals.
The goal of vaccination is to stimulate the immune system to recognize and eradicate residual disease, and prevent disease relapse. After participating in clinical trials led by BIDMC, many acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma patients are still in remission several years after receiving vaccination.