Centre for Precision Cell Therapy for the Liver PRaCTicAL

Posted on: 28th March 2023

The British Liver Trust are excited to be working with NHS Lothian, University of Edinburgh, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Services (SNBTS) and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult as part of a collaboration to create the first ‘Centre for Precision Cell Therapy for the Liver’ in the world.

PRaCTicAL will look to develop new cell-based treatment products for liver diseases and Type I diabetes and to boost the ability to perform liver-related clinical trials in Scotland.

Alternative treatment strategies are urgently needed as deaths due to liver disease have quadrupled since 1970, and it is the biggest cause of death in people aged 35 to 49.

Currently there are no specific medical therapies for liver cirrhosis (advanced liver scarring) and other liver conditions such as biliary diseases and acute liver failure have very limited treatment options. Liver transplantation is a potential cure but only a small number of patients are eligible and there is a shortage of donor organs. Because of the different causes of liver damage, specific liver conditions will need a distinct ‘precision medicine’ approach.

Cell and gene therapies (known as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products, ATMPs) offer the ability to precisely fix biological defects in damaged organs and are now providing cures in previously untreatable diseases (e.g., CAR-T cell therapy for cancer).

The collaboration has received funding from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) to build on outstanding research skills and facilities to create the first ‘Centre for Precision Cell Therapy for the Liver’ in the world. It will develop novel cell therapies to target liver damage, to reduce ill-health and death due to liver disease and avoid the need for liver transplantation. Work will build on promising laboratory studies of different cell therapies for liver disease and type-1 diabetes, and an early human safety trial in cirrhosis patients (Macrophage Therapy for Liver Cirrhosis (MATCH) study).

This new Centre will allow for the delivery of these new therapies to be speeded up for people in Scotland.

For more information on the exciting work of PRaCTicAL visit the website here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/regeneration-repair/research/cell-therapy-liver