A new collaboration between the Cell Therapy (CT) Catapult, set up at Guy’s Hospital as a centre of translational excellence for regenerative medicine, and the UK Stem Cell Foundation (UKSCF) is taking a ‘joined-up’ approach to building a viable pipeline of therapies based on stem cells in the UK market.
Under a memorandum of understanding, the two organisations will meet regularly to discuss projects and potential support packages, including other partners, that can drive growth in the UK’s emerging cell-therapy industry.
Both are both focused on translational activities: moving potential therapeutic approaches from early-stage research to later-stage development.
Founded in 2005, the UKSCF is the only UK charity concerned specifically with stem-cell research as a potential therapeutic strategy for a wide range of conditions and diseases.
The Foundation’s funding is directed at Phase I and Phase II clinical trials that contribute enabling technologies and/or translational research in stem cells with the potential ultimately to generate Phase III endpoints.
The CT Catapult’s remit is to take cell-therapy products into early clinical trials while providing clinical, technical, manufacturing and regulatory expertise and access to the National Health Service.
Since 2005, the UKSCF has supported projects in indications ranging from spinal-cord repair to ophthalmic, liver and cardiac disease, and tendon repair, the two organisations noted.
The CT Catapult envisages a similarly broad pipeline, building on the UK’s early-stage research base. Just last month the Catapult signed up its first corporate partner, ReNeuron.
The two groups are working together to develop and optimise processes needed to scale up manufacture of ReNeuron's flagship CTX cell line (used in its ReN001 therapy for stroke), as well as developing protocols for automated manufacturing processes.
Support and funding
By pooling their resources, the CT Catapult and the UKSCF hope to build a pipeline of projects that will meet their “criteria for support and funding on the route to commercialisation”.
Keith Thompson, chief executive officer of the Cell Therapy Catapult, pointed to the philanthropic sector’s increasingly important role in funding life-sciences research worldwide.
The UKSCF is “a major UK funder in this area, and exemplifies the kind of high-quality organisation the Cell Therapy Catapult expects to collaborate with as it works to build a thriving UK cell therapy industry”, Thompson added.
According to the UKSCF’s CEO, Lil Shortland, it is “clear that some of the projects we support fit within the remit of the Catapult and would benefit from the specialist support that it can provide”.
Shortland also emphasised how vital a “joined-up approach” is between public, private and third-sector organisations supporting the development of regenerative-medicine products in the UK.
“Each sector has a role to play in realising the potential of stem cells to deliver not just health benefits but economic benefits for the UK and beyond.”