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Tekes takes part in an extensive stem cell project


Tekes has allocated three million euros to financing a project by the Tampere-based Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the goal of which is to use stem cells in tissue-related technological applications.

“Stem cell research offers promising opportunities to develop new forms of cellular therapy for diseases formerly difficult to treat. Because of their important potential applications, stem cells have become a key focus of interest in biotechnology,” says Senior Technology Advisor Teppo Tuomikoski.

Regea is becoming a cutting-edge research centre for Tampere, with its strong points in biomaterial expertise, a combination of cellular biology and clinical skills, and with a particular strength in stem cell research. With the help of the new and challenging technologies being developed at Regea, it will be possible to develop entirely new materials and methods for tissue repair. It is believe that the work envisaged will lead to the development and commercialisation of important new products and treatments.

According to Tuomikoski, the work planned at Regea fits in well with Tekes’ new strategy. Tekes sees the great potential of Regea’s expertise, tissue technology and stem cells as of such significance that it has made an exceptionally major contribution to the field, Tuomikoski points out.

The financing will underpin Regea’s status as a nationwide centre of tissue technology

Tekes’ funding in Regea’s operations is focused on work aimed at developing cell culturing expertise and technology, an application aimed at treating injuries to nerve tissue, and the use of stem cells in treating cranial damage.

At present, stem cell lines cultivated around the world are available only for research or animal testing. The working conditions at the Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine and its GMP-standard laboratory and clean room facilities are of global excellence and they were designed specifically for cultivating stem cell lines suited for human cell transplants. The aim of the first stage of the project is to optimise the growing conditions for stem cells so that the cell lines cultivated will meet GMP requirements and be suited to treating human patients.

In further stages of the project, the aim is to differentiate embryonic stem cells into nerve cells and others, and to combine them with different types of biomaterials. It is hoped this will lead to the development of treatments for diseases of the nervous system and skeletal deficiency conditions. Strong excellence in biomaterials has been developed in Tampere, and Regea performs development of biomaterials in close collaboration with local biomaterial companies and Tampere University of Technology’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

The director of Regea, Professor Riitta Suuronen, sees Tekes’ funding as an important indication of the importance of stem cell research and the opportunities it affords. At the same time, the funding will enable the start-up unit to concentrate on long-term research work, Suuronen notes.

Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine is a separate faculty founded at the University of Tampere in 2005. The founder-members of Regea are the University of Tampere, Tampere University of Technology, the University Hospital in Tampere, Pirkanmaa Polytechnic, and Coxa Hospital for Joint Replacement. Regea is a consortium of five significant research and education institutes whose operations are linked by exploitation of the various technologies required by this field, education, and organisations in which the results can be exploited (including hospitals and companies in the sector). Regea has 30 employees today.

Regea is one of the few cell and tissue technology centres worldwide and the only one in Finland combining expertise in stem cells and biomaterials with tissue bank operations. Regea is specialised in researching and producing new treatments based on the kind of cell and tissue technology which is believed will yield an important new line of treatment in the future to accompany conventional medicine and surgery. It is also a key mission to promote collaboration between various research teams and companies in the fields of research on tissue technology. A major part of Regea is its tissue bank, which started up in the beginning of 2005, and which aims to be Finland’s first establishment to meet the requirements of the new EU directive (2004/23/EC) on tissue banks.

Eeva Ahola | alfa
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