Plasticell, a biotechnology company using combinatorial technologies for stem cell research and the optimization of cell and gene therapy manufacturing, has announced the signing of a collaboration agreement with the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) focused on methods of eradicating cancer stem cells.
Many malignant tumors are initiated and maintained by a discrete population of tumor cells that share many of the characteristics of normal adult stem cells. However, unlike the majority of cancer cells that comprise a tumor, cancer stem cells (CSCs) are often refractory to chemotherapy and are thought to be primarily responsible for relapse following cancer treatment. It has been shown that CSCs, appropriately stimulated by certain drugs, become susceptible to chemotherapy, leading to complete tumor remission once drug treatment is withdrawn.
Plasticell’s proprietary Combinatorial Cell Culture (CombiCult) platform will be used to discover combinations of drugs, growth factors and chemotherapeutic agents that are capable of eradicating CSCs in leukemia. The work will be carried out at Plasticell and in the laboratory of Dr. Eva Szegezdi at the Apoptosis Research Centre, NUI Galway, and is part funded by an Enterprise Partnership grant from the Irish Research Council.
“Despite much progress in the war against cancer, few definitive cures have emerged in the past 60 years,” commented Dr. Yen Choo, Plasticell’s executive chairman. “However, research into cancer stem cells, together with recent breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy, seem set to provide a string of successes in the field. Plasticell is well-positioned in both fields, being highly experienced both in stem cell biology and in optimizing the manufacture of cell and gene therapies to bring advanced therapeutic medicinal products to market.”