INSTITUTE OF CELL THERAPY
INSTITUTE OF CELL THERAPY
— INSTITUTE OF CELL THERAPY
The Institute of Cell Therapy (ICT) was established as a part of the University Centre for Research and Innovation of the University of Patras according to the article 37 of Ν. 4610/2019 and of ΦΕΚ τ. Β’ 3013/21.07.2020 (pek.upatras.gr).
The ICT is focused on translational research in cell, gene and regenerative therapies. The institute consists of the following parts/units: 1) The Centre to Advance Public Awareness & Recruitment of Bone Marrow Donor Volunteers (CBMDP) – “Save a Life” which is a fully functional and accredited local registry centre (World Marrow Donor Association code WO-1041) that has already recruited and registered more than 70.000 volunteers resulting in the provision of >150 grafts to patients in Greece and abroad with a sharp increase of provided grafts/year. The CBMDP has received numerous sponsorships and grants from various sources, namely the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) and Choose Life. 2) The newly founded Cell Therapy Lab fully equipped with specialized infrastructure (GMP clean rooms) (funded by Choose Life, https://chooselifeworld.com/) enabling the introduction, development, and clinical production of “Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products” – ATMPs. The ICT is in close collaboration with the Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit of the University General Hospital of Patras (EBMT CIC 281) (www.bmtpatra.gr) for the clinical implementation of advanced cell therapies.
- Translational research on cellular therapies, including GMP development of cellular products and performance of clinical trials in cooperation with the BMT Unit.
- Establishment and management of a “Bone Marrow Donor Center” which recruits stem cell donors and organizes stem cell donations within the network of the National Transplant Organization and the World Marrow Donor Association (WO-1041, www.xarisezoi.gr)
- Basic and translational research on “Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products” (ATMPs), including research on gene and regenerative therapies.
- The contribution to the educational and research needs of the undergraduate and postgraduate programs of the Departments of the School of Health Sciences of the University of Patras in matters that fall under the subject of “ATMPs”.
The provision of approved cell therapies and their administration consist a truly demanding process that entails the collection of autologous cells from the patient, shipping to specialized labs for manufacturing, transportation back to the facility, cryopreservation in sterile conditions (clean rooms, -180 C) and finally infusion in accredited BMT units. The accretided laboratory infrastructure of the ICT that are located in the Clinical Research Building of the School of Medicine, University of Patras now offer new possibilities for the establishment of such therapies at BMT Unit of the University General Hospital of Patras (UGHP) as the 3rd licenced and accredited unit of its kind in Greece. The BMT unit of the UGHP is one of the 4 licenced BMT units in Greece covering the Western Greece (Peloponnese & Epirus) referral area while also accepting referrals from other tertiary hospitals from the rest of Greece and Cyprus (up to 60% of our patients).
It is reported that within the first year at least 15 patients from all around Greece will benefit from cell therapies and most probably will be able to overcome their haematological disease. Within the next few years following the rapid approval of several ATMPs the number of patients benefiting will exponentially rise. Notably, cell therapies at present remain the last hope for definitive cure for malignant diseases refractory to all previous therapeutic interventions.
The ICT, apart from the distribution of cell products approved by the Greek Organization of Medicines, is actively engaged in a series of research pipelines aiming to develop novel cell therapies and initiate clinical trials. This translational research is presently embodied in 3 research projects funded by the General Secretariat for Research & Innovation (GSRI) & the HFRI and occupies 3 PhD students and 1 Post-doctoral scientist.