The treasure chamber: rest Where once Gold was stored, now the data of millions of stem cell donors

The heart of the machinery suggests 20 meters below the surface – at the most secure location of Dresden. In the 200-square-metre vault of the former Federal Bank branch, 30 servers are located in a container-like space. “Down here, money and Gold stored in the past,” says Thomas shepherd, pointing to the eggplant-colored vault door, weighing tons and one and a half meters thick. You could also appear in a James Bond movie. “Now the most important part of our lab, the Server is here. The data of the seven million potential donors whose DNA we have analyzed.”

Up to 7000 letters with sample swabs of potential donors to come in the lab every day. The submitters have with the swab of the cheeks along the inside rubbed. From the mucosal cells of certain tissue characteristics: they are crucial in order for a leukemia patient to find a donor.

Schaefer is one of the managing Directors of the laboratories, of the DKMS Life Science Lab. DKMS stands for Deutsche knochenmarkspenderdatei, a, founded in 1991, non-profit institution dedicated primarily to the support of stem cell donations in the fight against blood cancer. Worldwide, 900,000 people become ill each year from leukemia. Most of the time a stem cell donation or a bone marrow donation is the only treatment option. Only 30 percent of Patients find a matching donor within the family.

The DKMS helps in the search for an unrelated matching donor. For parts of the DNA to be analyzed by people, as a possible donor register, and special tissue characteristics of the immune system: the “HLA profile”. In the case of good agreement of these Profiles, it comes between the body of the recipient and the transplanted cells of the donor, not to a rejection. The DKMS operates the largest database in Germany, there are still 25 other smaller databases. So far, the organization has enabled more than 70,000 stem cell donations. A Central Register in Ulm and one in the USA store, what you know about helpful potential donors, to the world convey.

Thus, the donor and the recipient together, to be recovered in a complex laboratory process certain data, and special tissue characteristics of the donor. And it goes like this: to anyone Who is willing to register, gets the DKMS, a Set of sample swab looks like a cotton swab, sent to you. This rubbing for some time on the Inside of the cheek, so that the mucous membrane cells adhere to the surface, and sends it then to Dresden as a special laboratory. The analyzed parts of the DNA from the cells, and we calculated the tissue characteristics of the immune system, the HLA profile.

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At the beginning of the year, the entire laboratory was moved with 150 employees, within Dresden, because the old rooms were too small. And this project was not to be compared with a normal commercial moving at all. The task that Thomas shepherd was in charge, blew up everything that had happened, the 39-Year-old so far.

One and a half years he had sought with colleagues to the correct location before the processes of remodeling and moving to the Smallest plan was finally one and a half years. The former Federal Bank building, the Bureau is close to the Frauenkirche and next to the police, now meets all the requirements: more space, high ceilings, high load floors, for the part, very serious and up to 500,000 Euro, expensive laboratory equipment, a strong power supply and a reliable, powerful Internet connection to send huge amounts of data. “Shaky Internet, we can’t afford,” says Schaefer. Now you are at the main of the city on it, “directly on the main fiber-optic cable. The HLA is to create a profile is very computationally intensive, and we rely on a smooth exchange of data.”

The major project of moving was a logistical nightmare. Schaefer had to work with different companies: with laboratory designers, architects, IT planners, construction companies, specialists in the safety concept or for ventilation systems, fire protection inspectors, electrical engineers, or fußbodenl like. In time artisans and experts to find the wrote shepherd of the letters: “Normally, we help others, now we need your help …” It worked.

Now, the new server room is reminiscent of a high-security area: red warning lights above the door, a special air-conditioning that keeps the room temperature cool so that the devices to overheat, an “oxygen-reduction-System”, which drives the proportion in the air is 14 per cent down – so hardly a fire can break out. A particle sensor checks constantly in the air and triggers the Alarm as soon as something is simmering or kokelt: “It is so fine-tuned, the beats even if an employee has previously smoked a cigarette outside and then in the space,” explains Schäfer. “If the Server would break, we’d be set for months out of action. You can not only store the HLA Profile of the donors, but also the entire laboratory processes are controlled.”

The Server are located in a vault, where money and Gold stored: 20 meters below the surface, behind a purple-toned, – ton door

The laboratory – these are sort numerous rooms on the ground floor with approximately 800 technical equipment: The staff and coding here every day about 5000 to 7000 letters sent sample swab from Germany but also from Poland, great Britain, the USA, Chile and India, countries where the DKMS locations has built up. Thereafter, the DNA to be analyzed-sections and the HLA profile. Pipetting devices, robot arms, and analysis of machines whirring and buzzing. There are several time-consuming steps and procedures until the DNA is extracted Material and all the essential data on the Server. Every day, alone, consumed 1300 rubber gloves and 28,000 pipet tips. “We process annually 1.2 to 1.5 million sample inputs and the output are thus the most efficient typing laboratory in the world,” says Schaefer.

Who wants to be as a potential stem cell donor register, you can request chopsticks on Sample. The rubbing on the inside of the cheek and sends you to the laboratory of the DKMS.

With all the high technology and the many automated processes, the employees also experience from time to time, Surprises: Geoffrey Behrens, a biochemist and a specialist for laboratory technology, told an anecdote: “In the case of a contributor, we were able to the cell material from the sample swab is not correctly analyze.” Why? “The man was contacted again and another sample requested. Again, too little. Then finally came out. He had the chopsticks on the inside of the cheek mucosa along the ground, but on the outside of the skin of the cheek.”

An archive with Thousands of drawers

Finally, if the cells are broken and the DNA is dissolved out, if the tissue characteristics is determined and registered, but also it is hand work important: In the second giant vault of the building, an employee pulls a thick, padded work trousers and an Anorak, gloves and hat. Then it enters the container-like cooling chamber, eight meters long and four and a half feet wide, minus 20 degrees. Here, the DNA is stored, such as in an archive of each registered donor. In a silver-colored wall made of Thousands of flat drawers a sorted bar coded plastic plates with tiny holes, where the DNA is located. The archive serves as a security for the future. If Demands come, if something needs to be re-tested. Or if there is new scientific evidence for the adjustment of the donor and the recipient that you want to implement in certain samples.

The sophisticated System of the whole apparatus has proved its worth: “In Europe there is a high probability to find a matching donor, if one is suffering from blood cancer and a stem cell donation needs,” says Geoffrey Behrens. “In Germany it is 90 per cent.” In a matter of minutes can be determined by the targeted database query is usually a suitable potential donors. Then this is contacted. Is he still willing to help? Further investigations will follow.

All the effort, all the work is always ultimately to the one, beautiful Moment: The donor register spit out a hit. A cancer man needs urgent help, and another, healthy person, somewhere in the world, can you give it to him.

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