Stem Cell Trials in Heart Disease Patients Planned at NUI Galway and University

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Researchers at NUI Galway today (11th July 2006) announced that clinical trials of stem cells on heart disease patients could start collaboratively between NUI Galway and University College Hospital within two years, subject to regulatory approval. The research will be the first of its type in Ireland. The announcement was made this week as NUI Galway plays host to an international conference in regenerative medicine, which examines stem cell and gene therapy in a number of areas including heart disease, arthritis and neurological conditions. The conference brings together international researchers who will seek to rapidly advance progress in the area of regenerative medicine to bring research to the clinical trial stage.

The conference taking place from Tuesday, 11th July – Wednesday 12th July is being held by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with Georgia Tech/Emory of Atlanta and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Commenting on the announcement, Prof. Timothy O Brien, REMEDI Director and Chair of Medicine at NUI Galway said, "This is a major announcement for the development of stem cell research in Ireland. We will primarily focus on the cardiovascular area but hope to rapidly advance towards therapies in other areas. This conference is a valuable opportunity to harness the expertise at the Mayo Clinic and Georgia Tech by building a strong alliance with these Institutes to accelerate progress."

"Despite progress in modern medicine, an increasing number of patients are experiencing advanced heart failure. Stem cell research may offer new therapies to improve heart function and improve the outcome for these patients. This clinical trial will make a significant contribution to research in this area" added Dr. Pat Nash, Consultant Cardiologist at University College Hospital, Galway.

REMEDI scientific Director and leading researcher in adult stem cell therapy, Frank Barry, concluded, "We have developed a very strong expertise at REMEDI in the extraction and preparation of human stem cells from bone marrow and we are finalising protocols for the preparation of stem cells for clinical use. This will be an important step forward in this research area."

Regenerative medicine looks at the repair or replacement of tissues and organs by incorporating the use of cells and genes to regenerate healthy tissues and recent research in the area has opened up new opportunities to transplant stem cells to repair or regenerate tissues damaged by trauma or disease.

The conference will feature over twenty speakers advancing the latest thinking and developments in orthopaedic, neurological and cardiovascular regenerative medicine. The conference will be attended by representatives from US and Irish universities, industry partners and government agencies.

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Note to Editors: The Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) is a world-class biomedical research centre focusing on gene therapy and stem cell research. In state-of-the-art facilities, researchers at REMEDI work together to combine the technologies of gene therapy and adult stem cell therapy with the aim of regeneration and repair of tissues. The unique feature of the research carried out at REMEDI is the novel integration of both therapies in a complementary research and development programme.

Based in the National University of Ireland, Galway, REMEDI was established in 2003 through a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET) award, and industry funding. The institute is located at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science and incorporates the National Cell and Gene Vector Laboratory, a GMP grade vector and cell production facility.

REMEDI is a partnership involving scientists, clinicians, and engineers in academic centres and in industry. It is a unique cluster of talented and committed individuals who share a vision in developing new and successful treatment options for patients.

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