LUMC to build largest stem cell facility in the Netherlands
The Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) will start construction this year of the largest non-profit stem cell and gene therapy facility in the Netherlands, and one of the largest facilities in Europe. NECSTGEN – the Netherlands Center for the Clinical Advancement of Stem Cell and Gene Therapies – will support research in the area of regenerative medicine, enabling researchers to work on the breakthroughs of the future, such as cultured insulin-producing beta cells for diabetes patients.
There are very few affordable, non-profit locations around the world that stimulate and facilitate product development of the next generation of regenerative medical therapies. The transition from a medical science discovery in the laboratory to clinical practice is often a difficult step for researchers. NECSTGEN is needed for testing breakthroughs and producing them on a larger scale, so that health solutions can be available for patients much sooner.
NECSTGEN is a public-private consortium: researchers and start-ups throughout Europe and further afield will be coming to Leiden to expedite the application of these therapies. Some of the funding needed for NECSTGEN has already been pledged, and the LUMC is discussing additional funding with other parties. The new facility will allow the Netherlands to remain independent of foreign initiatives and will strengthen the national biotechnology ecosystem. Events in recent months have shown that this is a welcome development.
Cultured on demand
Everyone in the Netherlands could benefit from developments in regenerative medicine, says Ton Rabelink, Professor of Internal Medicine at the LUMC: “At present, patients with chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure or diabetes need many years of treatment, which is intensive for the patients and expensive for society. In the future, this need will be eliminated by regenerative medicine: patients will be cured with their own cells, with gene therapy or tissue manipulation; for example, with insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes, cultured on demand and specially made for your body.” Hundreds of thousands of chronically ill people will benefit from such breakthroughs, and the rapidly rising costs of healthcare will also be reduced if patients can be cured in the future with just one treatment.
NECSTGEN will be located in Mirai House on Leiden Bio Science Park the largest Life Science and Health cluster in the Netherlands and home of the LUMC. Researchers and start-ups will be able to use it for research into and development of stem cell and gene therapy products. The facility will be Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant, with eight Class B rooms, two Class C rooms and a QC laboratory, and will cover a total of 4,000 m2. It will be a place where academic discoveries are locally translated into scalable therapies for patients, including those with conditions that affect a very small group of people (known as orphan diseases).
NECSTGEN is an aspect of the collaboration with the Canadian Center for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), which has built a similar facility in Toronto, and will also contribute to RegMed XB (Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders), a public-private consortium of Dutch and Belgian partners. The facility will open for researchers and start-ups at the end of 2021. For more information, please visit necstgen.com.