An event organised by the ADVANCE.CAT consortium and devoted to advanced therapies was held on 25 July, coinciding with the eighth quarterly meeting of the project members and the consortium’s Second General Assembly.
At the meeting, Dr Anna Duarri, on behalf of the Centre of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB) and the Barcelona Macula Foundation (BMF), presented the latest results from the cell therapy trial with retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) in an animal model of selective atrophy of the outer retinal layers that resembles the geographic atrophy (GA) of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The joint work of the two institutions has shown that the implanted hiPSC-RPE cells are capable of integrating into the healthy retina and forming an epithelial monolayer. In addition, it has been seen that the integration capacity of these cells is not optimal in the atrophic zone and, in any case, they integrate only occasionally. This, in a clinical context, may support the hypothesis that the use of hiPSC-RPE could possess integration capacity beyond the limits of GA, which could potentially have trophic or supportive effects on native cells, thereby contributing to cell survival and slowing atrophy progression. The translational objective in the medium term will be to attempt to promote a Phase 1 clinical trial to assess the safety of this cell therapy and subsequently begin a second phase to attempt to show how disease progression is delayed.
The BMF was also present at the Second General Assembly organised by the coordinators of ADVANCE.CAT. Invitations to this event were issued to the political authorities, investigators, pharmaceutical executives and investors who all discussed the future of advanced therapies and of the potential of Catalonia and of ADVANCE.CAT to be highly influential in this promising field. The debate boasted the presence of Dr. Albert Barberà, the Director General of Research and Innovation in Health, Department of Health, and Lluís Juncà, Director General of Economic Promotion, Competition and Regulation, Department of the Vice Presidency and of the Economy and Finance, both pertaining to the Government of Catalonia. Also participating were representatives of the University of Barcelona, Biocat, the Clinic Hospital, Ferrer Advanced Biotherapeutics and Asabys Partners.
This programme is co-funded by the Agency for Business Competitiveness of the Government of Catalonia (ACCIÓ) and the European Union as part of the ERDF operational programme (European Regional Development Fund)) Catalonia 2014-2020.