By Tapela Morapedi
Clinical Trials Laboratory Assistant at Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), Natefo Keakantse has revealed that her investigations have shown that BHP’s peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) Laboratory is at the moment the only facility that conducts PBMCs isolation in the country.
PBMCs play an important role in immune system functions such as recognition of foreign pathogens such as fungi, viruses or bacteria, fighting infections, as well as protecting the body against invading pathogens, thereby providing insight into immune responses, she has explained.
“PBMCs are an essential blood component necessary for studying autoimmune diseases, vaccine development studies, drug discovery processes and advancing cancer research studies,” she said.
Ms Keakantse made this revelation when presenting on PBMCs isolation processes at a recent BHP Journal Club session held at the BHP Conference Room. She went on to explore the different types of PBMCs Isolation and the various techniques involved, with her preference being Leukapheresis procedure as opposed to the commonly used Density Gradient Centrifugation (DGC).
She explained that although this method is expensive and time consuming, Leukapheresis is nevertheless the easiest and most efficient method to use for isolating PBMCs as it only targets a particular constituent. By targeting a specific constituent, only the needed component is collected from the patient while the unneeded constituents are returned back into the patient’s blood circulation.
Keakantse further explained that blood wastage and the risk of contaminating the donor’s blood are significantly reduced under this method as opposed to the DGC which however is the fastest method when it comes to blood collection.
Keakantse has been working on PBMCs for over three years and she has special interests in Paedriatric HIV/TB Co-Infection Research.