Pilot factory brings healing of chronic diseases a step closer
Maastricht, April 9, 2021 – Today the Dutch cabinet decided to fully fund the National Growth Fund application of RegMed XB. A maximum of 56 million euros will be available for setting up a pilot plant for regenerative medicine. In doing so, the cabinet is following the weighty advice of the assessment committee of the National Growth Fund. The money will be used for the premium construction, furnishing and staffing of this pilot factory. RegMed XB stands for Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders. It is a collaboration of research institutions, governments, provinces, health funds and industrial partners in the Netherlands and Flanders to arrive at therapies for chronic diseases, based on stem cells, mini-organs, tissues and smart (bio) materials.
Regenerative medicine aims to restore or even completely replace the function of failing tissues or organs. As a result, lifelong treatment of symptoms is no longer necessary. Marianne van der Steen (Director New Business Development RegMed XB): “We are very happy with this investment. This allows us to build an infrastructure for the development of regenerative therapies that can really help patients in the future. In this way we are building a new industry where we can become a leader in the world. We will be an attractive location for companies from abroad, we will be able to build start-ups and scale-ups and we will increase our competitive strength. And it creates jobs! ”
The current small-scale way in which we make insulin-producing cells is labor-intensive
Collaboration in pilotfactory
The development of regenerative technologies is complex because of the use of living materials, such as cells and tissues, and involves high quality requirements. As a result, today it is still very labor-intensive and not automated. The pilot factory makes it possible to make various materials (biomaterials, stem cells, micro tissues, macro tissues) on a larger scale. The new facilities in the four participating regions (Eindhoven, Leiden, Maastricht, Utrecht) together form the pilot factory. They cover the entire chain of development and small-scale production of biomaterials, stem cells, micro- and macro tissues for personalized applications. Marianne van der Steen: “In general, Leiden works, amongst others, on the development and production of stem cells: the basis of regenerative medicine. Eindhoven is developing new biomaterials to which stem cells can be added to help the body repair damaged functions. Utrecht is strong in integrating materials and cells through biofabrication. Finally, Maastricht focuses on the assembly of micro-tissues to macro-tissues. Anyone can use the pilot factory, such as researchers, start-ups and scale-ups. This pilot factory for regenerative solutions, in which all parties work together intensively, is unique in the world and of great value.”
Helping more patients
Regenerative therapies are very complex and are often tailor-made for each patient. This precision work is time-consuming and expensive, which still hampers wide application at the moment. With the investment from the National Growth Fund, the production process is improved and the development of the therapies is accelerated. Tom Oostrom (director of the Dutch Kidney Foundation): “Thanks to the grant from the National Growth Fund, we can help larger numbers of patients in the future and save costs. This offers the millions of people worldwide with chronic diseases the prospect of recovery. Healthcare currently focuses mainly on treating symptoms, but RegMed XB focuses on curing diseases such as type 1 diabetes, kidney failure, osteoarthritis and heart failure. This award brings that final goal a big step closer.”
Greater innovation power
The investment in a pilot factory does not only contribute to healthcare. It is also a means to increase the innovative power of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is already one of the forerunners in regenerative medicine. The pilot factory provides an important boost in this emerging industry. Thanks to the support of the National Growth Fund and the investment of provinces, private parties and knowledge institutions, an ecosystem is created in which parties work closely together and which brings us a step closer to the cure of chronic diseases.
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About RegMed XB
Within RegMed XB, five health foundations, a technical university, three universities, three UMCs, 20 companies, four Dutch regions and three ministries join forces together with their Flemish partners to create a new industry in the Netherlands, start up and establish innovative companies, help them grow, and to create knowledge-intensive labor and added value. RegMed XB focuses on patient-driven solutions for chronic diseases such as renal failure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis.