NUIG and NEPHSTROM granted funding for coordinated project

Luke Redmond

NUIG and NEPHSTROM have been granted funding for their coordinated project to treat diabetic kidney disease

A NUI Galway coordinated project will begin clinical trials on a novel stromal cell therapy to treat type 2 diabetes, it has been announced.

The cell therapy, known as ORBCEL-M, is being used to treat diabetic kidney disease or more commonly known as type 2 diabetes which is one of the primary causes of end stage renal disease or kidney failure.

The project is part of NEPHSTROM, a European Union funded project which 12 nations are a part of including Ireland, the UK, Germany and Italy.

In 2015, the European Horizon 2020 programme awarded €6 million towards the project. It is being led by Professor Timothy O’Brien from NUI Galway and the founding director at Orbson Therapeutics, a cell therapy company based in Galway. He said the trial may be a huge step for sufferers of the disease.

“In my clinical practice, I encounter patients commonly with diabetic kidney disease who face the unpleasant possibility of dialysis or kidney transplantation. The outcome of this clinical trial may give patients another alternative and new hope,” said O’Brien.

The European wide NEPHSTROM project is being led by Italian Professor Giuseppe Remuzzi, who said the project was critical for those who urgently need new treatment.

“The complementary skills and expertise of the four participating European centres provide a critical network demonstrating the clinical feasibility of this innovative therapy and the opportunity for additional coordinated trials in diabetic patients with progressive kidney disease for whom new therapies are urgently needed,” said Remuzzi.

According to the most recent survey in 2015 by Healthy Ireland, around 225,000 people suffer with diabetes in Ireland with at least 85 per cent of those being sufferers of type 2 diabetes.

The same survey estimates that 1.1 million Irish adults are at risk of contracting diabetes unless they “consider making changes to their daily behaviours in terms of eating healthily and being more active,” according to Diabetes Ireland.

However, Steve Elliman, the Chief Scientific Officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, warned the main goal was to slow or stop progressive diabetic kidney disease and not to necessarily cure it.

“We are optimistic taking ORBCEL-M to the next stage to further investigate the immunotherapy as a solution to slow or stop progressive diabetic kidney disease,” said Elliman.

There is no date yet set for the start of the trials or how long they are expected to take.

Luke Redmond

Image Credit: Twitter