Ocata Therapeutics, a Marlborough, Mass.-based clinical stage biotechnology company, has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phase I grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund further preclinical development of Ocata’s proprietary Hemangio-derived Mesenchymal Cell (HMC) product for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis (LN).
“Ocata has demonstrated potential therapeutic activity of a pluripotent stem cell-derived product for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus nephritis and Crohn’s disease,” said Robert Lanza, M.D., chief scientific officer at Ocata, and Principal Investigator of the grant. “Our studies in highly regarded preclinical models of lupus nephritis provided proof-of-concept that our HMC’s increased the lifespan of the lupus-prone mice and inhibited the progression of otherwise fatal glomerulonephritis.”
Systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease that presents significant disease management challenges, as there currently is no known cure. While treatment to relieve symptoms is sometimes available for patients with mild to moderate SLE, a subset of SLE patients resist all forms of current interventions and develop LN, a severe and debilitating disease. The HMC product developed by Ocata has shown to have immune-modulatory and anti-inflammatory activity to help treat those diseases.