If you think the focus of Cord Blood Connect is laboratory and clinical investigations, you’d be half right. The conference also has an entire track of sessions devoted to technology, in-service training and education.
While the laboratory and clinical scientists are presenting the results of leading-edge studies in one conference hall, in another the sessions are centered on best practices for cord blood and perinatal tissue collection, processing, storage, shipping, marketing and regulation.
One of the many technical sessions will explore quality assurance in the modern era. Speakers will discuss a cellular therapy product stability program, consenting for cord blood donation, and contracting for family banking.
Another session, highly important in today’s challenging times, will propose ways to maintain cord blood bank financial health and sustainability. Strategies include product diversification, hybrid banking, corporate consolidation, globalization, and expansion into reproductive and other stem cell services – all presented by representatives of banks that are doing these kinds of things.
A factor in successful banking, especially for public banks, is inventory management. An international panel will present novel ideas in cord blood unit selection, and strategies to ensure that newly acquired units meet clinical needs without compromising bank sustainability.
Yet another session will have industry and bank representatives telling how they’ve formed partnerships. And there will be a session in which international regulatory agencies and registries explain the services that they can provide to individual banks.
All the speakers and session chairs are being encouraged to make their presentations interactive to allow attendees to present ideas, ask questions and learn from one another. The congress offers a great opportunity for banks to send multiple staff members for team building and interaction with their peers from around the world.
The plenary sessions, too, will offer much that’s important to the non-scientist. One plenary on government regulations will examine the FDA’s approach to products derived from cord blood and will consider who owns and has the right to decide how privately banked cord blood units are used. Another plenary on unit testing and release will examine the impact of the Zika virus on public cord blood banking, specifications for the use of cord blood and cord tissue in the clinic, and the role of expanded access protocols for licensure of novel cell therapy products.
The technical sessions have been developed by a 17-member committee, most of whom are involved in the day-to-day satisfactions and challenges of public and family banking. The committee chair is Karen Ballen, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Health System.
The dates for the international congress are Sept. 13-15, with a full day of pre-conference sessions on Sept. 12. A complete preliminary agenda is available online.