The two new programs are partially enabled by Locate’s recent success in securing £220,000 from non-equity funding in the UK via Wellcome Trust and Innovate UK.
At present, the main barrier to cell therapy success is the inefficient clinical administration of these therapies to the patients. Current standard methods for presenting the cells, such as injecting them in simple aqueous liquids, results in the majority of the cells dying or migrating away from the site of action soon after injection. Locate’s new programs aim to redress this issue by creating purpose-built delivery vehicles that provide protective environments for the cells and solidify immediately upon injection.
Over 100 million patients in the US alone could benefit from cell-based therapies targeted at heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, spinal cord injury, stroke, autoimmune diseases and trauma. The market is projected to increase from $1.1 billion in 2012 to $16 billion by 2020, with an annual growth rate of 40% (Lee et al. Biomaterials Research 2014).
The first program, a collaboration with the School of Pharmacy at The University of Nottingham, follows the award of a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. This will adapt the company’s TAOSTM technology (Targeted, Orchestrated Signaling Matrix) for use in administering therapeutic cells. TAOSTM uses injectable particles that assemble within the body into a porous matrix that protects and localises the cells and provides an environment in which they can flourish.
The second program, the recipient of a Pathfinder Award from the Wellcome Trust, will develop Locate’s RPMax (Reversible Porous Matrix) technology as a tool for both manufacturing and administering cell therapies. RPMax has thermoreversible setting properties to bypass the need for some of the damaging processing steps currently used to grow cells for clinical use. Its characteristics offer many advantages in repairing soft tissues, and in the easy retrieval of temporary cell therapy transplants.
Dr Robin Quirk, Chief Executive of Locate, commented: “Our TAOS and RPMax technologies are cutting-edge biomaterials with a wide range of clinical applications. As the commercial adoption of cell therapies continues to grow apace, extending their therapeutic benefit, there is a major unmet need in the way in which they are delivered to patient. Locate has a toolkit of injectable technologies that provide effective solutions to this problem which will be developed further by this non-equity funding”.
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