Europe

Ireland's first stem cell facility to open in Galway

The first facility in Ireland licensed to manufacture human stem cells has opened in Galway.

The facility at the National University of Ireland will take small samples of bone marrow from adult donors and use them to make billions of stem cells.

The development will mean some patients suffering from certain diseases will be able to access clinical trials of stem cell therapies.

Stem cells are human cells that can develop into many types of tissue.

As a result, scientists are increasingly studying their potential for regenerating diseased or damaged tissue in people suffering the effects of certain illnesses, including heart attacks, stroke, arthritis or diabetes.

The first Irish license to manufacture stem cells for this purpose has been granted to the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) at the Galway university.

Diabetes trial

After the stem cells are made they are injected back into the donor or other patients as part of clinical trials.

The first trial will investigate their use in the treatment of diabetes patients who are suffering reduced blood flow to lower limbs, a symptom which often results in amputations.

The CCMI received its licence to produce the culture-expanded stem cells from the Irish Medicines Board following a long accreditation process.

It is one of less than a dozen such facilities in academic centres in Europe.

The CCMI will work in tandem with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the university, which since 2004 has been working to develop new therapies for diseases which either have inadequate or ineffective treatments.