Leiden receives 17 million euros for development of regenerative medicine9 April 2021• PRESSRELEASE
On April 9, the Cabinet announced that RegMed XB will receive a maximum of 56 million euros from the National Growth Fund for a regenerative medicine pilot plant. From the grant, 17 million euros will be allocated to the Netherlands Center for Clinical Advancement of Stem Cell & Gene Therapies (NecstGen) and the stem cell and organ-on-chip (iPSC & OoC) hotel at the LUMC. NecstGen and iPSC & OoC focuses on developing stem cell therapies and technologies for chronic diseases.
Regenerative medicine aims to partially or completely restore the function of failing tissues or organs. In this way, life-long treatment of symptoms can be eliminated. Since regenerative medicine involves working with living human materials, such as cells and tissues, the quality of development processes and products must be held to the highest of standards. However, academic institutions and companies currently developing such technologies do not have the right resources in place.
With the National Growth Fund grant, significant advances will be achieved. The pilot plant consists of new facilities located in Leiden, Eindhoven, Maastricht and Utrecht. Together they cover the entire chain of development and small-scale production of stem cells and tissues for patient applications. In Leiden, the necessary expertise from researchers and companies will be integrated with access to GMP facilities. This will enable the LUMC to accelerate the process of transitioning technologies from the laboratory to the patient.
Curing type 1 diabetes
Many Leiden researchers are currently working with organ-on-chip models of the heart and kidney. For the development and production of stem cells, the LUMC focuses particularly on the fundamentals of regenerative medicine. The LUMC is also an internationally recognized centre for transplantation of insulin-producing cells from donor organs in patients with type 1 diabetes. According to Professor Eelco de Koning: “as there is a great shortage of donor organs, we are researching new treatment options for type 1 diabetes. Eventually, we want to solve type 1 diabetes in all patients. This requires new regenerative therapies, in which we use stem cells and other methods to produce genetic changes in cells and tissues”.
De Koning is not only researching how to grow insulin-producing cells from stem cells, but also how to use them in an organ-on-chip model. “This grant is fantastic as it allows us to advance our micro-organ model, which will help us better understand diabetes and develop new therapies. However, applying a new cell product in patients is a complex process that must be done safely. NecstGen’s knowledge and infrastructure is therefore essential in accelerating the process of clinical application of insulin-producing cells from stem cells”, he explains.
In addition to benefiting healthcare, investing in a pilot plant will increase the innovation power of the Netherlands. “The Netherlands is already a forerunner in the field of regenerative medicine”, says Pancras Hogendoorn, vice chair of the Board of Directors and Dean of the LUMC. “The boost from the National Growth Fund strengthens our (inter)national position and gives us the opportunity to expand it. The LUMC, together with the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of Leiden University, the municipality of Leiden and the province of Zuid-Holland, is committed to realising NecstGen and iPSC & OoC hotel at the Leiden Bio Science Park. With this, Leiden continues its long track-record in the field and brings us one step closer to achieving the cure for chronic diseases."
Regenerative medicine crossing boarders
RegMed XB stands for ‘Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders’. It is a multiple stakeholder collaboration between research institutes, governments, provinces, health funds and businesses within the Netherlands and Flanders. It focuses on the development of therapies for chronic diseases based on stem cell, mini-organs, tissues and smart (bio)materials.
Regenerative medicine is one of the three Societal Outreach Topics of the LUMC. Read more about the LUMC organ-on-chip applications and regenerative treatments on our website.
Read the press release of RegMed XB on their website.
Picture: Christine Mummery, Ton Rabelink, Gerard van Loon and Paul Bilars are all involved in NECSTGEN and/or iPSC & OoC hotel.