One of the first steps in biomarker discovery is the analysis of clinical blood samples, and more specifically the serum or plasma component of blood. Isolating serum or plasma simplifies the processing and analysis of blood by removing the other cellular components. Whilst this is valuable, it provides an incomplete picture of inflammation. The plasma is only one part of a much more complex signalling network, and red blood cells have now been identified as a major signalling protein reservoir. Signalling molecules such as cytokines are frequently analysed in biomarker discovery projects and their activities are increasingly targeted by therapeutics.
In 2014, the founding scientists of Sangui Bio made the discovery that RBCs are a major reservoir of signalling proteins, such as cytokines. We found that intact RBCs bind and release these proteins in a controlled manner over time, and that the protein profile of these cells could be manipulated by adjusting the storage conditions of these cells. Our data on blood samples from healthy people and multiple diseases indicate that RBCs act as a ‘buffer’ that may be involved in homeostasis.
We have developed technology and protocols for gentle isolation of RBCs from whole blood and in the isolation of cell secretions from RBCs and RBC components. Our intellectual property (IP) covers a broad range of techniques and clinical indications, creating value for partnering with larger companies.