Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030. Working on regenerative medicines to treat cardio diseases, CellProthera’s team aim to build a leading company in the field of regenerative medicine and put together every necessary effort to make a difference in the management of patients following myocardial infarct. Based in France, CellProthera’s Chairman and CSO, Dr Philippe Henon will be joining us at Biopharma Asia conference in Singapore this 21-23 March to share with you some of his insights on the current development of regenerative medicine and moving forward treating patients following myocardial infarct.
Ahead of him joining us later this month, we sat down with Dr Henon to find out more.
Q: Please tell us more about the idea behind founding of CellProthera
Henon: I had conducted an academic clinical pilot study at the beginning of the 2000’s, in which CD34+ stem cells were collected and selected from the peripheral blood of patients with myocardial infarct (MI) and reinjected directly into the ischemic cardiac lesion at the end of a CABG operation. Therapeutic results were actually stunning, but the process was still too experimental to allow its practice on a large scale. The solution went through the creation of a medtech company (CellProthera SAS) , capable to raise enough money to develop, industrialize and commercialize an automate device and disposable kits for GMP expansion and production of autologous CD34+ cell grafts (ProtheraCytes®), making the process available for most of the MI patients
Q: Please share with us the impact of successful research in regenerative medicine in cardiac diseases, and how it can potentially help the population in Asia
Henon: All but one of the patients enrolled in the pilot study achieved a sustained structural and functional regeneration of the cardiac lesion after CD34+ cell reinjection. All these responding patients are still alive and well, have a good quality of life with an average follow-up of more than 10 years, including 3 patients initially scheduled for a heart transplantation they have avoided up to now. A large diffusion of the GMP production process will allow to treat easily patients worldwide, including those of Asian countries in which the prevalence of MI occurrence is increasing in parallel with the growth of standard of living, as it was in occidental countries. While CellProthera has already launched a phase IIb clinical study in Europe, in which ProtheraCytes®are directly delivered into the cardiac lesion via an endo-cardiac catheter in patients with severe MI, its subsidiary in Singapore, CellProthera Pte Ltd, is also on the point of launching an additional clinical study in the National Heart Centre of Singapore
Q: What are your current pipelines and upcoming research?
Henon: Besides treatment of ischemic heart disease, the next step will probably to use GMP expanded CD34+ stem cells for cartilage repair. We are also looking for future collaboration with cord blood banks for cord blood cell expansion.
Q: What is your reason for choosing Singapore as a location to launch a subsidiary company in Asia?
Henon: We heard from Governmental Agencies that they wished to make Singapore the main site for medical excellence in Asia and South Pacific. As we propose ourselves a breakthrough therapeutic process, we thought that Singapore was the right place to be in the very next future.
Q: What’s your proudest moment founding CellProthera?
Henon: When the first MI patient was treated with Protheracytes®.
Q: In your opinion, how can biotech companies in Asia be more innovative?
Henon: There are several pathways that may further develop the innovation potential of biotech companies in Asia. Enhancing R&D capabilities by investing in research facilities and cooperating with countries in the Region having high expertise in R&D is one of them. Increased collaboration with the big pharma may also help biotech companies to acquire new expertise faster, to align early with international regulatory standards, and to finance their capital investment.