Submitted by Cascade Regional Blood Services
Key Biologics LLC and Cascade Regional Blood Services (CRBS) today announced a multi-year agreement to provide researchers in academia, pharma and biotech with vital blood products and materials for their research and product manufacturing efforts. The partnership focuses on collection of mononuclear cells (MNCs) by leukapheresis and includes joint donor recruitment, product distribution and marketing. The companies will leverage Cascade Regional Blood Services’ centers in Tacoma, Puyallup and Federal Way, Washington for donor screening and leukapheresis collections. The program will build on CRBS’s established expertise in recruiting and enrolling its volunteer blood donors into research studies involving collection of non-traditional blood products.
MNCs are a critical raw material for the development of cell- and gene-based therapies targeting certain life-threatening diseases. Demand for these products is rapidly increasing worldwide. Collection of MNCs by leukapheresis is a multi-hour procedure and therefore requires a high level of commitment from the donor. Both Key Biologics and CRBS have been very active in the recruitment of qualified donors to support these important research efforts.
For Memphis-based Key Biologics, the agreement extends its collection and distribution network, and better positions it to serve its growing customer base on the West Coast of the US and Canada as well as in Asia and Australia. For Cascade Regional Blood Services, the collaboration increases the utilization and output of its facilities and expands the products and services it can offer its customers and opportunities it can offer its donors.
In August, Key Biologics merged with Seattle-based Astarte Biologics adding highly complementary immunology expertise and expanding the combined company’s cell characterization, custom cell line and assay development capabilities. The addition of Astarte’s product and service lines provides Key Biologics’ customers with access to highly characterized cells and qualified cell lines. Astarte also has a long-standing relationship with Cascade Regional Blood Services with CRBS being an important provider of materials for Astarte’s work.
CRBS is a member of Blood Centers of America (BCA), a national organization of over 50 independent community blood centers and source plasma collection centers that is the largest blood supply network in the United States. In September, Key Biologics and BCA announced an agreement to leverage each organization’s resources and capabilities to supply critical raw materials needed for pre-clinical research and for clinical manufacturing of cell-based therapies.
“This partnership immediately expands Key Biologics collection and supply footprint and gives us the ability to serve a much broader segment of the market,” said Joe Gentile, CEO of Key Biologics. “The Northwest is an important and growing area for vital medical research and CRBS has the state-of-the-art facilities, expertise, and an engaged donor base to support those efforts. Our existing relationship with CRBS through Astarte and BCA will also help ensure we can immediately leverage the partnership to the benefit of all parties.”
“We are excited to partner with Key Biologics, and expand upon our long history of supporting research activities. We look forward to offering our donors new opportunities for saving lives and contributing to scientific advancements,” said Christine Swinehart, CEO of CRBS.
About Cascade Regional Blood Services
Cascade Regional Blood Services is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 independent blood center serving community hospitals and clinics in Western Washington since 1946. CRBS provides blood products, therapeutic apheresis services, and support to pharmaceutical partners. With a dedicated volunteer donor base, CRBS conducts over 1,000 blood drives a year and has three donor center locations, including a laboratory in their Tacoma headquarters. For more than 25 years, research companies have looked to CRBS to support their individual and IRB endeavors through recruitment and specialized collections. For more information, visit https://www.crbs.net/.
About Key Biologics LLC
Memphis-based Key Biologics provides research- and clinical-grade human cells and blood products and related services to pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and academic institutions around the world. The company is focused on advancing life science from discovery, through R&D, and into curing disease. The company began support of this industry in 1999 when its antecedent, Lifeblood Biological Services (LBS), was created by Dr. Edward Scott to meet the needs of biotech companies for well-characterized human biological materials to support research and development. Lifeblood’s recognition of the industry need and the business opportunity that resulted occurred a decade or more before other community blood centers embraced that view. Because of its long history and reputation, Key Biologics is viewed as the preferred partner for cell sourcing within the industry. With its recent merger with Astarte Biologics, the company now also offers the largest selection of characterized immune cells and reagents to help immunology and inflammation researchers accelerate their discovery efforts. For more information, visit www.keybiologics.com and www.astartebio.com.