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Atelerixa UK-based start-up company that has developed a method for transporting human cells at room temperature by encapsulating them in an alginate gel has collaborated with The LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI).
Atelerix is a spin-out from Newcastle University in the UK, is commercialising the transformative technology for the storage and transport of viable cells, including stem cells, for a wide range of uses in human healthcare.It overcomes the problems presented by the current need for cryo-shipping as it is simple, cell-friendly and user-friendly, and offers immediate access to cell therapies.
The LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is the largest eye carenetwork in India. It is a not-for-profit, comprehensive eye care institution committed to delivering high-quality treatment and care for patients, embracing all socio-economic backgrounds. Their motto is “So that all may see” and in evidence of this they have treated 24 million people over the last 30 years, with more than half the services provided free of cost, regardless of complexity.
There are approximately 130,000 people suffering from corneal blindness in India with some 30,000 new cases every year. About 30% of the time both eyes are damaged simultaneously and 40% of the injuriesoccur in children. The standard of care is to perform a corneal transplant, but although the surgery is quick and straightforward, it ishigh maintenance treatment with immunosuppressant eyedrops being required daily for life, with patient compliance beingpoor.
LVPEI are developing a stem cell treatment for reversal of the scarring, and have beenseeing very encouraging results from their clinical trials. At present, however, they can only treat patients in Hyderabad where the clinic is physically situated close to the eye bank from which they isolate the cells and culture the cells in their cGMP facility. As things stand, the shelf life of those isolated cells is 6-8 hours making it impossible to transport the cells to their other regional centres across India or to their multiple smaller centres that would otherwise carry out the procedure.
Earlier this year,the Atelerix team won a grant from the DIT and travelled to Hyderabad to work in the labs of LVPEI to show that their technology can extend the shelf life of the cells to 5 days - a massive change over the current standard and potentially making the treatment available across the whole of India and beyond.
Commenting on the tie up, Professor CheConnon, Professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, U.K and the Scientific founder of Atelerix said: “It’s really exciting for me to see science developed in my tissue engineering lab at Newcastle University be translated into the clinic. The fact that our work could eventually help millions of people regain their sight is incredibly rewarding. And this is only the beginning of potential application of this technology. It is certainly not limited to cell therapy of the eye and we could see it being employed across many other modern treatments.”