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07 February 2017

New collaboration to develop therapies for the treatment of degenerative diseases

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The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), Smart Cell Processing (SCP) partners and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) have announced an exciting collaboration with the potential to make a substantial contribution to the development of new cellular therapies for the treatment of a range of degenerative diseases.

The project involves the evaluation of a SCP system, developed by Tokyo Electron Ltd (TEL), Shimadzu Corporation (SHIMADZU), Sinfonia Technology Co Ltd (SINFONIA) and Nikon Corporation (Nikon), in the generation and expansion of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC).

Millions of people around the world are affected by degenerative diseases and many current treatments limit the extent of damage, but do not replace the cells that have already been lost or impaired. Regenerative cellular therapies have the potential to restore these cells and their functions.

Prof Marc Turner, Medical Director, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service said:

"The induced Pluripotent Stem Cells are made by transforming the skin or blood cells of a donor or patient into new stem cells that are capable of multiplying and becoming any type of cell in the human body. The development of a Smart Cell Processing system promises to transform the way in which complex cellular therapy manufacturing like this is undertaken and importantly facilitate the introduction of new treatments for patients with degenerative diseases. This is a revolutionary area of work and we are delighted to be involved."

One of the key challenges is creating the iPSC to clinical good manufacturing practice (GMP) standard due to the complexity and length of the process. The SCP system has the potential to help manufacture GMP grade cells more effectively than current manual methods.

Director Yoshio Kinoshita, Director of Corporate Strategic Development of TEL said:

"We are excited about the opportunity that SCP technologies developed by TEL, SHIMADZU, SINFONIA and Nikon will be evaluated by one of the most advanced cell manufacturing facilities in the UK. We hope the project will contribute to cell therapies."

The collaboration involves the partners optimising a prototype SCP system during initial evaluation, with a view to developing the manufacture of GMP iPSC using CGT Catapult’s source cells in the new SNBTS National Jack Copland Centre in Edinburgh.

Keith Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of the CGT Catapult said:

"Collaboration is key at this stage of growth for the UK cell and gene therapy industry so we are happy to offer our cell line for this project. Clinical grade iPSC could have a huge impact in creating new cell and gene therapy treatments that will make a difference to patients. This project has the potential to help us reach the goal of making it easy to develop the cells at suitable safety and consistency standards."

Work on the project is expected to start in early 2017 and take about 18 months to complete.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:
"This is an exciting project and another opportunity for Scotland to be at the forefront of innovative global research. I look forward to hearing about its progress and how it might benefit patients in Scotland and around the world."

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