Regenerative Medicine Utrecht


Two ZonMw TAS grants awarded to RM Utrecht researchers

The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) has awarded two grants for Translational Adult Stem cells research (TAS) to RM Utrecht researchers. The TAS program stimulates innovative research in safe and responsible new applications of adult stem cells, either direct applications or new techniques to create human tissue from adult stem cells. Prof. Saris and dr. Vonk succesfully submitted two projects and received two ZonMw TAS grants to continue their research in adult stem cells applications for cartilage defects and osteoarthritis.

IMPACT to Cartilage Care: Upscaled cellular manufacturing, Surgical refinement, Dosing and clinical efficacy studies of Instant MSC Product accompanying Autologous Chondron Transplantation (IMPACT)
Daniel Saris / Lucienne Vonk

The aim of the project is to refine, optimize and standardize the manufacturing process of the IMPACT (Instant MSC Product accompanying Autologous Chondron Transplantation) product to treat cartilage defects in the knee. In IMPACT, autologous defect-derived chondrons are mixed with allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells and re-implanted in the cartilage defect in fibrin within a single surgery. A phase I clinical study has shown reliable patient safety, initial clinical improvement and signs of structural repair of IMPACT. In the proposed study a phase II clinical trial will be executed in which a fully enclosed cell isolation and mixing system will be implemented combined with a dosing study. Optimizing and standardizing the manufacturing process will lead to shorter surgery time and aid in clinical implementation.

MSC-derived extracellular vesicles- towards a novel therapy for osteoarthritis
Lucienne Vonk / Magdalena Lorenowicz / Daniel Saris

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease, leading to chronic pain, stiffness, and disability, with no disease-modifying cure available yet. Current treatments attempt to relieve the symptoms, but they cannot stop or reverse the ongoing cartilage degeneration.  Recently, a new therapy for OA using intra-articular injections of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) has entered clinical trials. As other cellular therapies, MSC treatment also carries safety issues. Growing evidence including our preliminary data indicate that therapeutic effect of MSC is mediated by small vesicles, so called extracellular vesicles (EVs), which carry regenerative and anti-inflammatory signals. Here we will investigate the therapeutic potential of MSC-EVs in OA cartilage repair, using a preclinical model and a panel of unique chondrocyte and synovial tissue / fluid samples from OA patients. Furthermore, we will establish guidelines for production, storage and quality controls of MSC-EVs for clinical use. Our ultimate goal is to work towards an innovative and potentially safer MSC-EV-based therapy for OA.