NUIG’s CÚRAM partners with US biotech company on stem cell therapy for COVID-19 patients

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Galway Daily news NUIG's CÚRAM partners with US biotech company on stem cell therapy for COVID-19 patients

NUIG’s CÚRAM centre is working with US-based biotechnology company, Factor Bioscience on a new stem cell therapy for severe COVID-19 cases.

CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience have announced a partnership to develop and test a cell therapy for people with severe COVID infections and other serious respiratory illness.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is the most common cause of death related to a COVID-19 infection, causing the lungs to fill with fluid that makes it impossible to get oxygen into your blood.

Professor John Laffey, project lead and CÚRAM Investigator, said that stem cell therapies for treating dangerous respiratory conditions have advanced rapidly in recent years, but the challenges in actually producing large quantities of stem cells has hampered the field.

“Our partners, Factor Bioscience, a long-time collaborator of CÚRAM, has developed a novel type of stem cell with almost unlimited production potential.”

Factor Bioscience have developed a method whereby regular cells can be reprogrammed to revert back to a stem cell state.

As part of their partnership with CÚRAM, these cells will be made at the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland at NUIG, and then tested in CÚRAM’s labs.

The Centre for Cell Manufacturing is the only licensed cell manufacturing site in Ireland, and ha the capacity to produce stem cell products that are used in human clinical trials designed to test their effectiveness in a range of life-limiting medical conditions.

Prof Laffey said “Ultimately we hope to bring this exciting new cell therapy to a clinical trial for severe cases of COVID-19 and other ARDS patients within the next year.”

Matt Angel, co-founder and CEO of Factor Bioscience, said that clinical partnerships like this are essential for delivering projects that have a “direct and significant impact” on patient’s health.

“We have an excellent relationship with CÚRAM, and this project brings the perfect blend of expertise together enabling us to have a direct and significant impact on patient health.”

“This technology, which enables the production of patient-specific cells for transplantation, has wide-ranging applications in personalized regenerative medicine.”

Professor Frank Barry, a collaborator on the project at the CCMI added that they aim to tackle global health challenges by translating “cutting-edge biomedical research” into real world treatments.