LUMC and Ixaka announce collaboration to advance cell therapy development

30 March 2021• NEWSITEM

The Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and Ixaka Ltd. have announced a research collaboration on 30 March 2021, to better understand REX-001, Ixaka’s lead cell therapy product. The project will be led by Professor Paul Quax, Head of Experimental Vascular Surgery at the LUMC, to support accelerated development of REX-001 in Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI).  

CLTI is a life-threatening vascular disease caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries, which limits the adequate flow of blood and oxygen to a specific part of the body, such as the leg muscles. According to Quax: “there are not many available options to treat the disease as it progresses and the current procedures to manage symptoms of CLTI at advanced stages are often unsuitable or ineffective”. For example, cutting-edge methods such as the use of minimally-invasive catheters and surgical reconstruction do not help in restoring blood flow or preventing major amputations. “This has created a critical need for new and innovative therapies”, highlights Quax.

REX-001 cell therapy 

REX-001 consists of a combination of immune and progenitor cells (early descendants of stem cells, which can differentiate to form one or more kinds of cells) that are extracted from the patient’s bone marrow. The cells are then processed to enhance their natural therapeutic power and re-administered directly to the site where the blood vessels are blocked. Phase I and II studies have shown that administered REX-001 acts by regenerating blood vessels, modulating immune responses, improving blood flow and oxygenation, as well as promoting wound healing. These effects can significantly improve the clinical outcomes of patients and their quality of life. “The treatment has demonstrated high efficacy in phase II studies, but a better understanding of the REX-001 underlying mechanism of action will be very valuable as we progress our phase III clinical trial and prepare our application for market authorization” explains Joe Dupere, CEO of Ixaka. 

Ixaka and LUMC collaboration

A collaboration between Ixaka and LUMC is set up for success. Whereas the LUMC has been a key player in cardiovascular research for over fifty years – and particularly in regenerative medicine the past decades -  Ixaka focuses on developing cell and gene therapies. Ixaka’s proprietary technologies demonstrate potential for the treatment of a broad spectrum of serious conditions across oncology, cardiovascular, neurological and ocular disease, as well as several genetically-related disorders. “The LUMC is an internationally renowned research institution with proven expertise in cell and gene therapies and vascular medicine. This makes them the perfect partners to aid us in the development of our REX-001 product”, says Dupere. Quax also expresses his enthusiasm: “I look forward to working with Ixaka to further elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms of this promising advanced regenerative therapy”. 

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