NUI Galway to lead €6m research project into stem cell therapy for diabetes

Mon, Nov 19, 2012, 00:00

Could a particular type of adult stem cell offer a useful therapy for diabetes? An EU-funded project being led by NUI Galway hopes to find out.

The €6 million Reddstar project will assess whether the stem cells can tackle glucose levels and various complications of diabetes, including diabetic ulcers and eye, nerve, heart and kidney and bone damage.

The approach centres on a specific adult stem-cell population owned by Orbsen Therapeutics, a spin-out from the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Regenerative Medicine Institute (Remedi) at NUI Galway.

Initially, the project will develop ways to grow the bone-marrow-derived stem cells in a way that is useful for trials, according to company co-founder and Remedi director Prof Tim O’Brien.

The cells will then be tested in several preclinical models of diabetic complications at centres in Galway, Belfast, Munich, Berlin and Porto.

Then the plan is to select one complication for which the adult stem cells will be assessed in human trials in Denmark.

The three-year EU funding will support nine jobs in Ireland, five of which will be in Orbsen Therapeutics, according to CEO Brian Molloy, who says the project should help to build Ireland’s status as a hub for cell therapy development and commercialisation.

“Whilst wins such as the Reddstar programme are fantastic for us, we need to continue to develop and advance our product,” he says.

“The potential is enormous, but we will only realise that potential if we continue to press on with our RD programme. To that end we are currently raising funds and are looking to raise up to €2 million from private investors.”

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