When specialist healthcare investment company Syncona Ltd discovered the ground-breaking cell therapy research being conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh it sparked a collaboration that went on to fuel the launch of pioneering biotechnology spinout Resolution Therapeutics.
A decade of dedication
Professor Stuart Forbes, Director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, has been exploring the role of macrophages in organ repair for a decade. Macrophage cells are known primarily for their role in innate immunity, but studies had indicated they could also play a part in tissue repair. In collaboration with Professor John Campbell’s cell therapy group at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), Professor Forbes and his team were not only able to discover the regenerative potential of macrophages, but also apply this learning to the development of novel treatments for chronic liver disease.
Syncona had identified the Forbes team’s research as a potential candidate for investment, so when their MATCH clinical trial data made a compelling case for the efficacy of macrophage cell therapy on chronic liver disease, the company funded a 2-year research collaboration with Professor Forbes, his team and the SNBTS, with the aim of proving the commercial viability of macrophages as a treatment modality. Access to the University’s world-class facilities at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, which include a centralised cell culture facility and a state-of-the-art good manufacturing practice (GMP) cellular therapy facility, meant the team were ideally equipped to clear the path to manufacture and file several foundational patent applications. The success of the collaboration motivated Syncona to invest a further £26.6 million to form Resolution Therapeutics and bring the team’s pioneering science to a clinical setting.
From bench to bedside
Resolution will initially channel its leading-edge expertise into treating chronic liver disease, which is the only chronic disease still on the rise in western countries and the third leading cause of premature death in the UK. The lone therapeutic option currently open to patients with end-stage liver disease (cirrhosis) is liver transplantation, a complex surgical procedure inhibited by complications and a shortage of donors. There is a need for simpler, lower risk treatments with new modes of action. Backed by Syncona, Resolution are now harnessing the healing power of the macrophage to develop a novel and transformational therapeutic product that will effectively treat patients suffering from chronic liver disease and help them avoid the need for a transplant.
Edward Hodgkin, Partner at Syncona and now Chairman and CEO of Resolution, is enthusiastic about the company’s trajectory:
We are excited to partner with the world-class team in Edinburgh as together we build a business that will develop and commercialise macrophage cell therapies to treat severely ill patients who have no other treatment options.
It is a very exciting opportunity, and we will be at the forefront of the development of a new kind of cell therapy.
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