The evaluation of colony forming units (CFU) in cord blood is a test that provides information about the functional status of cord blood cells. The test is a critical component of our quality protocols and is performed on each unit both before cryopreservation and at the time of release for transplantation in a patient. While there are other tests which provide a measure of cord blood unit quality (e.g., TNC and CD34 enumeration), neither of these tests measure the functional health (i.e., ability of stem cells to proliferate and differentiate) of the cells they count.
Several years ago, we developed a high resolution digital imaging (HRDI) system to record dish images and their corresponding CFU counts. The HRDI system has enabled more flexibility in the timing of workflow and increased our lab's capacity to perform the assay. As a result, in 2013 we began providing the CFU assay as a service to other public cord blood banks and to nearby research institutions.