South Texas Blood & Tissue Center Working To Roll-Out Innovative Therapies

Updated: Mar 8

For over 45 years, the San Antonio-based nonprofit has worked to save and improve lives. The South Texas Blood & Tissue center recently expanded its programs and partnerships to develop advanced therapies and research.

 
South Texas Blood & Tissue Center; Blood bank; Blood donation
Judge Nelson Wolff (right) and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (left) spoke about the San Antonio blood shortage in January. // Credit: The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center

If you've read the news in recent months, you likely know the U.S. blood supply shortage has reached critically low levels. According to the latest reports, blood centers across the nation currently have a one-day supply of some blood types in inventory. In the new year, officials of San Antonio indicated the community has a two-day supply of all blood types, and "O" blood type is currently at less than a day's worth of supply.


To illustrate the dire need to see an increase in blood donations, Mayor Ron Nirenberg declared a blood emergency for San Antonio and Bexar County in January 2022. He signaled the blood shortage could potentially result in postponed surgeries and delayed treatments.


The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center Addresses a Critical Community Need


Rooted in a 45-year legacy, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) has worked to advance the mission behind saving and improving patients' lives in the communities it serves. What began as an organization to ensure a safe and adequate blood supply through proper testing, storage, and distribution to hospitals has evolved to meet the growing needs of patients in healthcare and science.


While blood collection is essential, STBTC's efforts also help researchers learn innovative ways to create and advance lifesaving treatments to change the healthcare landscape.


BioLinked Helps STBTC Bridge Advanced Research


STBTC partners with agencies across the region to create pathways for lifesaving therapies. In August 2021, STBTC enlisted the help of BioLinked to help maintain an electronic roster of people willing to participate in studies.


BioLinked is a research study database that aids the scientific community through its work to develop new medical therapies for the treatment of cancer and other conditions. Donors can join the registry on desktop or smart devices and complete a brief questionnaire to qualify for future studies.


If BioLinked discovers a match for a study, its staff contacts donors to explain participants' requirements to move forward in the process. Per the BioLinked guidelines, donors may also elect to remain anonymous.


STBTC's Legacy of Innovation


While BioLinked helps STBTC maintain its registry for potential donor matches in specific studies, the center's targeted work paves the way for new and exciting developments in healthcare.


"In addition to the blood products, we've been developing and working on our legacy of innovation. So, we've been working in developing new things and new ideas for many years," Vivienne Marshall, PhD, Senior Director of the Center for Advanced Therapies at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, said. "But, as we're looking at our advanced therapies and our opportunities there, it needs to be a more concerted effort to find whether people are interested in participating in these research studies."


Dr. Marshall goes on to explain the ways STBTC looks to provide care and cures.


"We talk about it as care, which would be our blood donations, and cures which are working to advance the research side. The BioLinked platform is a space where people can register when they are interested in hearing more. Once registered, it allows us to contact them, let them know we have a particular opportunity, and ask if they'd be interested in participating in this opportunity."


In keeping with innovation, Dr. Marshall discusses what's on the horizon at STBTC.


"We're looking to increase our involvement in what's called CAR T-cell therapies for cancer patients. What is needed to be able to develop those CAR T therapies starts with blood cells from healthy donors. So, we're working with companies that are at the forefront of that technology. And it's going to be the new wave and treatment for cancer. It's pretty cool to think that our donors can walk in here in San Antonio and provide their healthy cells, which are then replenished for them. We then send them to the developers of these new therapies, and then potentially impact hundreds of cancer patients, from one donation."

 

Looking for more information?


To learn more about the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, including ways to donate, visit biobridgeglobal.org.