Dr. Viktor Sevastianov, Head and Professor of the Institute of Biomedical Research and Technology, within the Shumakov Center, demonstrated safety and feasibility of ERC injection in experimental animal models of diabetes. Additionally, the studies demonstrated that the cell delivery technology developed by Dr. Sevastianov's laboratory can be used to enhance growth of ERC. These experiments are part of the process for registration of "new pharmacological substances," which is the first step towards drug approval in Russia.
"Type 1 diabetes is a significant problem in the Russian Federation. Our laboratory has been working developing various delivery formulations for cell therapy, such as SpheroGel, which is registered in Russia," said Dr. Sevastianov. "Given that the ERC can be produced in large quantities, is a universal donor cell, and already is approved for clinical trials in both the USA and Russia, we are optimistic our collaboration will lead to a viable commercial product for the type 1 diabetes Russian population."
Medistem discovered ERCs in 2007, and they appear to possess "universal donor" properties, allowing the cells derived from one donor can treat multiple unrelated recipients. According to Medistem's current FDA cleared production scheme, one donor can generate 20,000 patient doses. Medistem licensed technology from Yale University for generating insulin producing cells from ERC. A publication describing the technology may be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21878900.
"Our vision is to combine SpheroGel, which is a clinically-available cell delivery vehicle in Russia, together with Medistem's ERC and technology from Yale University to generate a commercially-viable product for clinical trials in type 1 diabetes patients," said Thomas Ichim, CEO of Medistem.
Medistem has outlicensed the Russian and CIS rights to ERC and related products to ERCell LLC, a St. Petersburg-based biotechnology company. Under the agreement, Medistem owns all data generated and will receive milestone and royalty payments.
"By working with leading investigators in Russia and the USA, we seek to be the leaders in a new era of medicine in Russia," said Tereza Ustimova, CEO of ERCell."