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U awarded $8.6M to manufacture stem cell therapies

The University of Minnesota has been awarded an $8.6 million contract to help speed the development of novel stem cell- and immune cell-based therapies from the laboratory to clinical trials through the Production Assistance for Cellular Therapies (PACT) program.

The award, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, was given to five academic centers, including centers at the University of Minnesota, Baylor College of Medicine, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These sites will serve as national resources for the development of new treatments for patients with various heart, lung, and blood diseases.

The University of Minnesota team will continue to work on establishing national best practices for the development of cellular therapies. Investigators here have been at the forefront of research on umbilical cord blood and the development of regulatory T cells and natural killer cell therapies to enhance the effectiveness of blood and marrow transplants and reduce their complications.

“Few institutions in the U.S. have the combined expertise and resources in one place to take an idea from the research bench to the patient bedside as we have at the Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics Facility,” says principal investigator John E. Wagner, M.D., who together with David McKenna, M.D., and Jeffrey Miller, M.D., will lead the University program.

The PACT award is the second fiveyear contract Wagner has received at the University to help accelerate work on cellular therapies. The University’s first contract, awarded in 2003, fundamentally transformed the pace of new cell-based therapies.

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