Milestone For Stem Cell Research In Ireland

Author:Mr Michael Finn

Ireland has broken new ground in the field of adult stem cell research in recent months. The Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland at NUI Galway is the first-ever 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 are able to differentiate into specialised cell types. Stem cells are categorised into two types, which is determined by 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

In recent weeks, researchers in Galway 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 markedly reduces blood-flow and, if left untreated, can lead to amputation.

The research facility at the CCMI will play a key role going forward 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 biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly80 billion of funding available over seven years...

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