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Consortium wins FP7 grant for arthritis treatment

A consortium from five European countries has won a €5.9 million grant from the European Seventh Framework Programme to use stem cells derived from human fat in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

The REGENER-AR consortium consists of 10 research institutes, hospitals and biotechnology companies from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. They are collaborating on the development of Cx611, a suspension of adult stem cell cultured from adipose tissue and delivered by intravenous injection.

The funding will support a multicentre phase II study involving 53 patients to determine the safety, efficacy and optimal dosage of the therapy.

It also covers the cost of further pre-clinical studies to investigate the treatment’s mechanism of action. Trial results will be available in the second half of 2013.

Nearly half the total grant, €2.9m, was awarded to TiGenix a Belgium-based biotechnology company and its Spanish subsidiary, Cellerix. Founded in 2000 by the University of Leuven rheumatologist Frank Luyten, TiGenix also has facilities at Cambridge in the UK and Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands.

The company’s chief executive officer, Eduardo Bravo, said, “We are very pleased with the substantial FP7 grant awarded to the REGENER-AR consortium to support the development of stem cell therapies. We look forward to collaborating with our partners in the consortium, all of whom are dedicated to advancing cell therapy to the clinic.”