Research on Encapsulation of Therapeutic Cells Awarded

Researchers from the University of Basque Country have received a Spanish Pharmaceutical award for their research on microencapsulated cell therapies.

From the Basque Research press release:

The team made up of teachers at the Pharmacy Faculty of the University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU), José Luis Pedraz, Gorka Orive, tgether with Rosa María Hernández and Doctor Ainhoa Murua from the Centre for Networked Biomedical Research (CIBER BBN), was awarded the IX Prize of the Spanish Association of Pharmaceutical Law (ASEDEF) in the Innovation section, for research on microencapsulation of medication. ‘Xenogeneic transplantation of erythropoietin-secreting cells immobilized in microcapsules using transient immunosuppression’ was published by the Journal of Controlled Release. ASEDEF grants this award every year in recognition of research work by professionals in the health sector working on medication and its contribution to the health of persons.

The research work undertaken at the Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Technology Laboratory at the UPV/EHU comes under the remit of a line of research by this team. The microencapsulation of cells as a system for the secreting of therapeutic products is a promising technology research into which has been going on for nearly four decades. It involves coating certain cells with biomaterials of a different nature in order to create micrometric-sized particles (always less than 1 millimetre). The encapsulated cells produce therapeutic proteins which, in turn and, once implanted in the organism, are secreted in a controlled and sustained manner. The result is thus highly beneficial in the case of illnesses that require the regular administration of medication. Its clinical application, however, is made difficult because, amongst other things, the encapsulated cells have a short survival period in the long term. Moreover, when cells from other living beings – xenotransplants – are used, in order to resolve the usual scarcity of transplant tissue, problems arise with the encapsulated cells caused by the immunological response of the receptor.

In this award-winning research work, the UPV/EHU researchers implanted encapsulated cells from the muscle tissue of the Fischers rat. These cells produce eritropoyetina (EPO), the protein that facilitates the creation of red blood cells. Short-term immunosuppressor treatment (Tacrolimus, one of the medicines used to reduce the immunological response in transplanted persons) was administered to the rats via intramuscular for 4 weeks).Thanks to this immunosuppressor treatment, the levels of hematocrit in the rats was kept high for a period of time significantly greater than the group that had not received this immunosuppressor treatment – 14 weeks more, in fact.

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