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18 Apr 2013

CT Catapult and Loughborough University join forces to tackle one of the cell therapy industry's major challenges

Keith Thompson (right), Chief Executive of the Cell Therapy Catapult, and David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, discuss the development of the UK’s cell therapy industry.

The Cell Therapy Catapult, which is focused on the development of the UK cell therapy industry to increase the nation's health and wealth, has joined forces with Loughborough University to work together on innovative manufacturing.

The two organisations will collaborate to develop robust processes and new manufacturing and delivery techniques, removing the barriers associated with turning cell-based therapies into products, and providing training and skills development.  Tackling some of the challenges associated with scale-up and manufacturing of cell therapies – such as ensuring reproducibility, purity, potency and efficacy – is a key objective for the CT Catapult.

Working with Loughborough's Centre for Biological Engineering (CBE), a multidisciplinary research centre bridging the fields of engineering and biology, will enable the CT Catapult to make significant improvements to current knowledge and manufacturing effectiveness.

As well as being a recognised expert in the manufacture and quality control of cells and tissues used in cell therapy, the University’s CBE hosts the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine, and the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine.

Keith Thompson, Chief Executive of the Cell Therapy Catapult, said: “We are delighted to be working with academic experts at Loughborough University on the techniques needed to turn small-scale cell therapies into robust products amenable to larger-scale manufacture.  This is one of the fundamental translational gaps that the CT Catapult is working to bridge, providing the cell therapy industry with important advances, and the expertise available at the CBE will be invaluable for this task.”

David Williams, Professor of Healthcare Engineering at Loughborough University, added: “The Cell Therapy Catapult is playing an important role in making the UK cell therapy industry a world leader, and the University is pleased to establish this relationship.  As new manufacturing technology is developed collaborations like this will help grow the sector and ensure that our research is informed by the needs of the industry, as well as providing training and employment, helping the University and the EPSRC meet many of their aims.”

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Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 13/59

About the Cell Therapy Catapult
The Cell Therapy Catapult is a centre of translational excellence for regenerative medicine. Its vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development, delivery and commercialisation of cell therapy, making it a location for business start-up and growth.  Based in London at Guy's Hospital, the centre plans to take products into early clinical trials, providing clinical, technical, manufacturing and regulatory expertise and access to the NHS. There will be a focus on collaboration and lowering barriers to investment and funding, and operations will grow rapidly throughout 2013. The global cell therapy industry was estimated to have a turnover of $1bn in 2011 and is estimated to grow to $5bn by 2014 (Mason Regen Med 5(3) 2010, Mason Regen Med 6(3) 2011). For more information please go to catapult.org.uk/celltherapy.

About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes. It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

More details on the Centre for Biological Engineering can be found at www.lboro.ac.uk/research/lcbe.   The EPSRC Centre (www.epsrc-regen-med.org) is a collaboration between Loughborough, Keele and Nottingham Universities as is the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre (www.dtcregen-med.com).

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. www.epsrc.ac.uk

About Cell Therapies
Cell therapies are defined as any treatment for a medical condition that employs at its core one or more types of viable human cells. This encompasses both use of the patient’s own cells (autologous) and donor derived (allogeneic) cells including adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (derived by reprogramming donated adult differentiated cells). For instance, the transplant of the patient’s own or donated bone marrow/peripheral blood cells for haematopoietic reconstitution or donated human islets to treat diabetes are cell therapies, as are commercially available products such as chondrocytes for cartilage repair or fibroblasts/keratinocytes delivered in a bio-scaffold for treatment of burns or chronic wounds. The scope of the Cell Therapy Catapult is to operate within this core definition using innovative cell therapies and up to one step away in related areas. For instance, devices used to process human cells for therapy and tissue/biomedical-engineered replacement organs could be within scope.

About Catapults
Catapult centres are being established by the Technology Strategy Board, as a new addition to its range of programmes to stimulate innovation. They are places where the best of the UK’s innovative businesses and researchers work together to bring new products and services more quickly to commercialisation. Focusing on areas with great market potential, Catapults will open up global opportunities for the UK and generate economic growth for the future. In addition to the Cell Therapy Catapult, catapult centres for High Value Manufacturing, Offshore Renewable Energy, Satellite Applications, the Connected Digital Economy, Future Cities and Transport Systems are also being established.

About the Technology Strategy Board
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org

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