Use of polyvinyl alcohol for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell expansion.
Nishimura T., Hsu I., Martinez-Krams DC., Nakauchi Y., Majeti R., Yamazaki S., Nakauchi H., Wilkinson AC.
Serum albumin has long been an essential supplement for ex vivo hematopoietic and immune cell cultures. However, serum albumin medium supplements represent a major source of biological contamination in cell cultures and often cause loss of cellular function. As serum albumin exhibits significant batch-to-batch variability, it has also been blamed for causing major issues in experimental reproducibility. We recently discovered the synthetic polymer polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as an inexpensive, Good Manufacturing Practice-compatible, and biologically inert serum albumin replacement for ex vivo hematopoietic stem cell cultures. Importantly, PVA is free of the biological contaminants that have plagued serum albumin-based media. Here, we describe that PVA can replace serum albumin in a range of blood and immune cell cultures including cell lines, primary leukemia samples, and human T lymphocytes. PVA can even replace human serum in the generation and expansion of functional chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, offering a potentially safer and more cost-efficient approach for this clinical cell therapy. In summary, PVA represents a chemically defined, biologically inert, and inexpensive alternative to serum albumin for a range of cell cultures in hematology and immunology.