Major Stem Cell Conference Marking Ireland’s Standing in Regenerative Medicine

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Conference, NUI Galway, 2-3 July

Focussing on adult stem cells, the Mesenchymal Stem Cell Conference takes place in NUI Galway on 2-3 July. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of adult stem cell, and this event brings together the world’s leading scientists in the field to discuss their latest ideas and findings.

This international meeting is the first major stem cell conference to take place in Ireland, and will look at all aspects of adult stem cells, from basic biology to manufacturing to clinical trials and therapeutics.

Scientists at NUI Galway are investigating how adult stems cells might be used to develop new treatments for vascular disease, osteoarthritis and lung injury. The University has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI).

NUI Galway also collaborates with other Irish research institutes, including UCC and NUI Maynooth, who will participate in the event. There will also be significant participation from multinational and Irish companies working in the stem cell field. 

Adult Stem Cells
Stem cells can divide to produce more stem cells (self-renewal) or can change into many different specialized cell types.  There are two main types, embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are found in many of our tissues, where they act as the body’s own repair mechanism. They can be easily isolated from tissues such as bone marrow and fat.

The focus on adult stem cells at the conference relates to the fact that these cells are at the forefront of the global translational effort in stem cell therapy and also reflects the area of particular expertise of researchers at NUI Galway. 

“Work in the field of adult stem cell therapy has advanced rapidly because they are relatively easy to isolate and grow in the laboratory and because there is increasing evidence to suggest that they will represent an effective and safe treatment for a number of diseases”, explains Frank Barry who is Professor of Cellular Therapy at NUI Galway, Director of the NCBES and a principle investigator at REMEDI.

Professor Barry adds: “However, stem cell therapy is complex and controversial and sometimes exaggerated claims are made. This gathering of research experts and industry leaders in Galway will focus on the realities of adult stem cell research, what is possible now and what is likely in the future.”

Conference Programme
The conference will cover five strands including Therapy, Immunology, Manufacturing, Gene Therapy, and Biology. Speakers include:

  • Professor Anthony Hollander, University of Bristol, was one of a team of scientists and surgeons who successfully created and then transplanted the first tissue-engineered trachea (windpipe), using a patient’s own stem cells. The bioengineered trachea immediately provided the patient with a normally functioning airway, thereby saving her life.
  • Professor Arnold Caplan, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio is one of the leaders in the field and the founder of Osiris Therapeutics, a global leader in of adult stem cell therapy.
  • Professor Catherine Verfaillie, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, looks at stem cell based and stem cell derived therapies in models of hematopoietic, cardiovascular, liver and metabolic (diabetes) disorders.
  • Professor Robert Deans works with Athersys Inc., a company developing cell therapeutics based on stem cells isolated from adult bone marrow.
  • Professor Cosimo De Bari, fromUniversity of Aberdeen in Scotland, has expertise is in translational stem cell research for musculoskeletal repair, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
  • Dr Luc Sensebé of University of Brest in France coordinates EU projects dedicated to the development of quality production processes for MSCs and their uses for clinical trials.
  • Dr Elena Jones of Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine in the UK, has developed novel ideas on large-scale extraction of MSCs from soft tissues including synovium and joint fat. 

Professor Barry concluded: “Given the presence of significant research programmes in MSC biology, immunology, manufacturing and transplantation in Ireland the staging of this conference in 2012 is timely and important. The event will enhance the profile of regenerative medicine research and give Irish scientists an opportunity to interact with leading scientists and industry leaders.”

The conference is supported by Orbsen Therapeutics, Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway and Fáilte Ireland.

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Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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