Milestone For Stem Cell Research

Author:Mr Michael Finn

The landmark approval of adult stem cell research at the CCMI and the availability of funding make Ireland an attractive location for ground-breaking research and clinical trials using adult stem cells. Ireland has broken new ground in the field of adult stem cell research in recent months. The Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) at the National University of Ireland, Galway is the first facility in Ireland to receive a licence from the Irish Medicines Board to manufacture culture expanded adult stem cells for human use in clinical trials. It is now one of only six licensed facilities in Europe.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are a class of undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into specialised cell types. They are categorised into two types, depending on whether they have been sourced from embryos (embryonic stem cells) or adult tissue (adult stem cells). The embryonic stem cell has the potential to develop into any type of cell in the human body and can be engineered to produce new tissues or organs. Adult stem cells can be used to generate a range of cell types from the originating organ, or even regenerate the entire original organ.

Future plans at CCMI

Researchers in Galway recently announced that, following successful initial clinical trials, stem cells could be used to treat osteoarthritis within five years. A trial funded by the Health Research Board and Science Foundation Ireland will investigate the use of mesenchymal stem cells isolated from bone marrow for the treatment of critical limb ischemia - a severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities, which significantly reduces bloodflow and, if left untreated, can lead to amputation.

The research facility at the CCMI will play a key role in ensuring that adult stem cell research in Ireland remains internationally competitive by securing funding from EU funding sources - in particular, the Horizon 2020 programme, which is the...

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