Valitacell Ltd, National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) and Swansea University
DRUG MAKERS involved in cell therapy are able to produce their products faster and cheaper using technology which monitors the quality of cells through the manufacturing process.
Stem cells are cells which can develop into many different cell types and in most cases cell therapy is used to treat diseases such as osteoarthritis which is untreatable using modern medicines. The cells are usually taken from bone marrow or fat tissue and expanded. These cells have immunomodulatory or anti‐inflammatory properties which promote tissue healing and regeneration.
ChemStress fingerprinting, which has been developed by Dublin-based Valitacell, is a tool that can be used to characterise cell function and optimise the expansion process. Valitacell is working with National University of Ireland Galway on the project through the Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network. Until now, the clinical translation of stem cell therapies has been hindered by the lack of standardised and validated protocols for quality assurance in manufacturing.
Dr Stephanie Davies, head of cell therapy science at Valitacell, said: “The cells need to be expanded because only very small amounts of them can be harvested from donors”. “Once you have harvested a donor sample you need to expand these to produce the millions of cells that are required for a treatment”. “ChemStress provides a measure of cell function. Many of the current characterisation tools do not give any indication of cell function and others which do are difficult to standardise”. “It can also easily be automated using liquid handling robots and fairly common hardware. Automation is extremely beneficial in cell manufacturing as it reduces risk of contamination, human error and variability in the product”.
Professor Frank Barry of REMEDI at NUI Galway, said: “The partnership with Valitacell is an excellent example of the importance of CALIN in supporting early stage companies in developing their technology to meet industry needs. We are very happy to do everything we can to make our expertise available to companies if it helps them to be successful”.