The federal government's National Health and Medical Research Council will provide a $1 million grant to cell therapy company Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP) under its Cardiovascular Health Mission.
The company said it will use the grant to fund a major preclinical research project to investigate its Cymerus mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a treatment for ischemic heart disease.
The project will be led by Dr Shiang (Max) Lim a the St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.
It will also involve a number of other institutions, including the University of Adelaide, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, the University of South Australia, Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, the University of Arizona, Monash University, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and hearts4heart.
Cynata will supply Cymerus MSCs at its cost to facilitate the study and the project is expected to run for a period of two years. It will involve encapsulating Cymerus MSCs in a clinical-grade device that can be implanted below the skin (subcutaneously) to allow sustained delivery of the bioactive molecules released by the MSCs.
Aims of the project include the optimisation of the encapsulation approach and demonstration of long-term cardiac repair in rat and sheep models of acute myocardial infarction. If successful, it is anticipated that these studies would support progression to human clinical trials.
Dr Lim said, “There is an urgent need for novel therapies to prevent the onset of heart failure and improve survival in patients with IHD. We firmly believe that MSC therapy has great potential to address this unmet need. Unlike conventional stem cell production methods, which are associated with scale-up and consistency challenges, the Cymerus iPSC-based approach can provide an effectively unlimited source of consistent MSCs. This project aims to accelerate the development of a new, safe and minimally invasive method to deliver the beneficial secretions of Cymerus MSCs to patients, using a retrievable encapsulation device that protects the cells, to allow long-term treatment for effective cardiac repair.”
Dr Kilian Kelly, Cynata’s chief operating officer, added, “IHD is the leading cause of death worldwide, and accounts for about 12% of all deaths in Australia. Our previous research has established that Cymerus MSCs show great promise as a treatment for cardiovascular disorders, including IHD. This new project aims to enable clinical translation of a novel approach to achieve sustained delivery of Cymerus MSCs in this patient population. We are very pleased that the MRFF has seen fit to provide a substantial amount of funding to progress this, and we look forward to working with Dr Lim and the highly credentialled team that he has assembled to execute this important project.”