1 May 2014

A team from UCL (University College London), Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and Royal Free Hospital is collaborating with the Cell Therapy Catapult on the development of a tissue repair product for babies in whom the oesophagus has not developed properly. The project, funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation and supported by UCL Business PLC, builds on work of UCL, GOSH, Royal Free Hospital and University College London Hospital. It is expected to result in the first clinical trial of a tissue-engineered oesophageal replacement in infants, providing effective swallowing as they grow.

Infants born with oesophageal atresia lack a complete oesophagus, resulting in an inability to feed, long-term health issues and often requiring full-time care. Around 250 babies are born yearly with this condition in the UK, and as a leader in child health, GOSH treats a large number of these patients. With current surgical repair approaches generally ineffective, oesophageal atresia is an area of clear unmet medical need. The market for this condition is thought to be worth more than £70m pa, and a successful product would also have potential in oesophageal repair or replacement following trauma or disease in adults and children.

Using the expertise developed in previous studies, the project team will develop its oesophageal repair approach using stem and other cells taken from amniotic fluid in pregnancy, which are then grown on a donor ‘scaffold’ to create a new organ. Development and analysis of the prototype is expected to lead to a clinical trial in neonates in 2016. The Cell Therapy Catapult will be responsible for project management, as well as providing input around non-clinical, clinical and regulatory matters.

Dr Paolo de Coppi, consultant paediatric surgeon at GOSH & clinical senior lecturer at UCL Institute of Child Health, said: ‘At Great Ormond Street we treat some of the most severe cases of oesophageal atresia, witnessing the difficult long-term health problems these children experience. This funding from the UKSCF, for which we are very grateful, will help us develop this technology, ultimately providing patients with an entirely new oesophagus rather than trying to repair an inadequate one. This is part of our wider research into regenerative medicine, in which we are aiming to engineer rejection-free organs and tissues for transplant.

Keith Thompson, CEO of the Cell Therapy Catapult, said, ‘The Cell Therapy Catapult is involved with several innovative scaffold-based tissue repair projects, and it’s clear that this is an important source of new products. We’re delighted that our first joint project with UKSCF is in this area of high unmet medical need, where our expertise can bring real patient benefit.

Lil Shortland, CEO of UKSCF, said, ‘The UK Stem Cell Foundation is pleased to fund this important and ground-breaking research in the area of oesophageal atresia. With our focus on progressing the development of stem cell-based therapies for devastating conditions, this project is fully aligned with our objectives.

For more information, please contact:
Cell Therapy Catapult
Keith Thompson, CEO
+44 (0) 203 728 9500

Emma Palmer Foster, Strategic Communications Consultant
+44 (0) 7880 787185
comms@ct.catapult.org.uk
@CTCatapult

UK Stem Cell Foundation
Lil Shortland, CEO
+44 (0) 7973 211149
lil.shortland@ukscf.org

Maureen Munro, Marketing Fundraising Director
+44 (0) 7985 933201
maureen.munro@ukscf.org

UCL
Harry Dayantis, Media Relations Manager
+44  (0) 203 108 3844
h.dayantis@ucl.ac.uk
+44 ( 0) 7747 565056

Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Communications team via Rfh.communications@nhs.net
+44 (0) 207 830 2963

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
Caroline Butcher, Media Relations Manager
+44 (0) 207 239 3178
caroline.butcher@gosh.org

About the Cell Therapy Catapult
The Cell Therapy Catapult is a centre of translational excellence for cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Its vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development, delivery and commercialisation of cell therapy, making it a location for business start-up and growth.  Based in London at Guy’s Hospital, the centre takes products into early clinical trials, providing clinical, technical, manufacturing and regulatory expertise and access to the NHS. There is a focus on collaboration and lowering barriers to investment and funding, and operations have grown rapidly since inception. UK Trade & Investment has valued the global regenerative medicine industry at just over £500 million, and estimates that it will be generating revenues of over £5 billion by 2021.

For more information, go to: ct.catapult.org.uk

About Catapults
Established by the Technology Strategy Board, the Catapults are a network of seven technology and innovation centres covering a range of sectors including: High Value Manufacturing, Satellite Applications, Cell Therapy, Offshore Renewable Energy, Future Cities, Transport Systems and the Connected Digital Economy. Two more are in the pipeline – Energy Systems and Precision Medicine – and these are due to open in 2015. The existing centres are making significant progress, attracting new investments, forging strong partnerships in their sectors and engaging with thousands of businesses large and small. The total public and private sector investment in Catapults will £1.4 billion over the first five years.

About the UK Stem Cell Foundation
The UK Stem Cell Foundation was set up in 2005 to speed up the progress of promising stem cell research and technology into new treatments and therapies for patients. It is the only UK charity to focus specifically on stem cell research as a potential treatment for a wide range of conditions and diseases. The Foundation focuses on funding late basic research projects, phase I and II clinical trials that contribute enabling technologies and/or translational research in stem cells that could ultimately lead to a phase III clinical trial endpoint. Ideally these projects will have the potential to deliver patient benefits within a 5-year period.

For more information, please visit: www.ukscf.org

About UCL
Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by our performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world. UCL has nearly 27,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar. Our annual income is more than £900 million.

www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

 About Royal Free
The Royal Free attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, surgery for hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) conditions, clinical neurosciences, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and is a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

For further information, visit: www.royalfree.nhs.uk

About Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust is the country’s leading centre for treating sick children, with the widest range of specialists under one roof.
With the UCL Institute of Child Health, we are the largest centre for paediatric research outside the US and play a key role in training children’s health specialists for the future.
Our charity needs to raise £50 million every year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund pioneering research. With your help we provide world class care to our very ill children and their families.

About UCLB
UCL Business PLC (UCLB) is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market. UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com or follow us on Twitter @UCL_Business