Preclinical characterization of DUOC-01, a cell therapy product derived from banked umbilical cord blood for use as an adjuvant to umbilical cord blood transplantation for treatment of inherited metabolic diseases.


Background aims

Cord blood (CB) transplantation slows neurodegeneration during certain inherited metabolic diseases. However, the number of donor cells in the brain of patients does not appear to be sufficient to provide benefit until several months after transplant. We developed the cell product DUOC-01 to provide therapeutic effects in the early post-transplant period.


DUOC-01 cultures initiated from banked CB units were characterized by use of time-lapse photomicroscopy during the 21-day manufacturing process. Antigen expression was measured by means of flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry; transcripts for cytokines and enzymes by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction; activities of lysosomal enzymes by direct biochemical analysis; alloreactivity of DUOC-01 and of peripheral blood (PB) mononuclear cells (MNC) to DUOC-01 by mixed lymphocyte culture methods; and cytokine secretion by Bioplex assays.


DUOC-01 cultures contained highly active, attached, motile, slowly proliferating cells that expressed common (cluster of differentiation [CD]11b, CD14 and Iba1), M1 type (CD16, inducible nitric oxide synthase), and M2-type (CD163, CD206) macrophage or microglia markers. Activities of 11 disease-relevant lysosomal enzymes in DUOC-01 products were similar to those of normal PB cells. All DUOC-01 products secreted interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10. Accumulation of transforming growth factor-β, IL-1β, interferon-γ and TNF-α in supernatants was variable. IL-12, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13 were not detected at significant concentrations. Galactocerebrosidase, transforming growth factor-β and IL-10 transcripts were specifically enriched in DUOC-01 relative to CB cells. PB MNCs proliferated and released cytokines in response to DUOC-01. DUOC-01 did not proliferate in response to mismatched MNC.


DUOC-01 has potential as an adjunctive cell therapy to myeloablative CB transplant for treatment of inherited metabolic diseases.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Kurtzberg, Joanne, Susan Buntz, Tracy Gentry, Pamela Noeldner, April Ozamiz, Benjamin Rusche, Robert W Storms, Amy Wollish, et al. (2015). Preclinical characterization of DUOC-01, a cell therapy product derived from banked umbilical cord blood for use as an adjuvant to umbilical cord blood transplantation for treatment of inherited metabolic diseases. Cytotherapy, 17(6). pp. 803–815. 10.1016/j.jcyt.2015.02.006 Retrieved from

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Joanne Kurtzberg

Jerome S. Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Kurtzberg is an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation, and novel applications of cord blood and birthing tissues in the emerging fields of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.   Dr. Kurtzberg serves as the Director of the Marcus Center for Cellular Cures (MC3), Director of the Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, Director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, and Co-Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Laboratory at Duke University.  The Carolinas Cord Blood Bank is an FDA licensed public cord blood bank distributing unrelated cord blood units for donors for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) through the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.  The Robertson GMP Cell Manufacturing Laboratory supports manufacturing of RETHYMIC (BLA, Enzyvant, 2021), allogeneic cord tissue derived and bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and DUOC, a microglial/macrophage cell derived from cord blood.

Dr. Kurtzberg’s research in MC3 focuses on translational studies from bench to bedside, seeking to develop transformative clinical therapies using cells, tissues, molecules, genes, and biomaterials to treat diseases and injuries that currently lack effective treatments. Recent areas of investigation in MC3 include clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous and allogeneic cord blood in children with neonatal brain injury – hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and autism. Clinical trials testing allogeneic cord blood are also being conducted in adults with acute ischemic stroke. Clinical trials optimizing manufacturing and testing the safety and efficacy of cord tissue MSCs in children with autism, CP and HIE and adults with COVID-lung disease are underway. DUOC, given intrathecally, is under study in children with leukodystrophies and adults with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

In the past, Dr. Kurtzberg has developed novel chemotherapeutic drugs for acute leukemias, assays enumerating ALDH bright cells to predict cord blood unit potency, methods of cord blood expansion, potency assays for targeted cell and tissue based therapies. Dr. Kurtzberg currently holds several INDs for investigational clinical trials from the FDA.  She has also trained numerous medical students, residents, clinical and post-doctoral fellows over the course of her career.

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