Q Therapeutics and REPROCELL Partnering on Stem Cell-based Therapies for ALS

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by Alice Melão |

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Q Therapeutics of the United States and REPROCELL of Japan are teaming up to develop stem cell-based therapies for central nervous system diseases such as ALS and transverse myelitis, or TM.

The collaboration will meld Q Therapeutics’ expertise in nerve cell therapy with REPROCELL’s expertise in stem cell treatments.

“This collaboration with Q Therapeutics and their scientific co-founder, Dr. Mahendra Rao, enables us to accelerate our therapeutic regenerative medicine business using iPS [induced pluripotent stem] cells,” Dr. Chikafumi Yokoyama, the CEO of REPROCELL, said in a press release. “I am also honored to step into contributing to unmet medical needs like ALS and TM using our proprietary iPS cell technology.”

Q Therapeutics has invented a way to produce purified human glial progenitor cells from any type of tissue. These immature cells give rise to the two types of glial cells that surround nerve cells.

Glials’ role is to help support nerve cells and insulate them from each other. They are also involved in nerve cell repair.

In June 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Q Therapeutics’ Investigational New Drug application for an ALS and TM treatment call Q-CELLS. That designation paves the way for clinical trials of a therapy.

REPROCELL has developed an RNA-based technology for reprogramming stem cells so they can develop into other cells quickly and on a large scale.

The partners hope that combining their proprietary technologies will lead to new approaches to treating several neurodegenerative diseases, according to Rao, Q Therapeutics’ chief strategy officer. He is former director of the National Institutes for Health’s Intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Therapeutics’ experience in U.S. clinical trials and REPROCELL’s in trials in Japan should help facilitate the partners’ efforts to obtain global approvals, they said.

“I am pleased to announce this collaboration with REPROCELL to explore development of therapeutic products from multiple tissue sources,” said Steven Borst, Q Therapeutics’ CEO. “This has the potential to advance our position as a global player in cellular therapeutics and advance our patented products and manufacturing processes toward multiple clinical trials.”