NIH puts up $48.2M for progenitor cell translational research consortium

Written by RegMedNet

Awards from the NIH totaling US$40 million over the next 7 years will include funding for translational research that continues the development of progenitor cell and genome-editing techniques for tissue engineering and repair, to help further the development of regenerative medicines.

The National Institute of Health has announced that it will commit up to US$40 million over the next 7 years to fund the creation of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Progenitor Cell Translational Consortium (PCTC), in addition to providing $8.2 million for a coordinating center to manage the consortium’s activities and outreach.

The NIH has defined the consortium’s goal as the translation of recent advances in progenitor cell biology to develop new treatments for cardiovascular, pulmonary and hematologic diseases. “The use of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in combination with bioengineering advances and genome editing offers unique opportunities for developing personalized disease models and tissues for regenerative medicine,” explained an NIH statement. “Coupling multiple organ chips together may offer unique opportunities in drug discovery. Advances in 3D printing also offer exciting new opportunities for regenerative medicine, including incorporation of vascular scaffolds into bioengineered tissues and organs.”

Projects of particular interest to the consortium will include those focused on continuing development of patient-specific disease models using progenitor cells and genome editing; using natural or genetically modified progenitor cells and their differentiated progeny for cell therapies and tissue engineering; applying endogenous progenitor cells to tissue repair; and reprogramming progenitor cells in vivo to treat disease.

Examples of research projects appropriate for this funding opportunity include:

  • The transplantation of genome-edited iPSC-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells for treatment of sickle cell disease and other monogenic hematologic diseases;
  • The genetic modification of cystic fibrosis lung stem and progenitor cells to improve disease and promote tissue regeneration;
  • High-level transgene expression in iPSC-derived megakaryocytes to correct Glanzmann’s thrombasthenia and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.

The NIH has clarified that this funding opportunity is not open to research focusing on cancer, communicable diseases or projects focused on the empirical application of poorly characterized cells types for cell therapy.

Up to five PCTC grants will be awarded, each worth $924,000 in fiscal 2016 and in 2017, and up to $1.2 million in each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022. “Projects may vary substantially in their objectives and scope of research,” the statement continued. “The feasibility of the investigators’ projections and the linked milestones will be important review considerations.”

— Written by Hannah Wilson