11 March 2019 39

The European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells launches a second project phase

EBiSC2 – The European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells - today announced the launch of a second project phase. EBiSC2 builds on the achievements of the European Bank for hiPSCs (EBiSC), giving academic and commercial researchers access to high quality hiPSCs from diverse disease and genetic backgrounds (cells.ebisc.org).

CMAST is also involved in this project, in support of Janssen Pharmaceutica.

EBiSC2 will secure long-term access to well characterised and quality-controlled hiPSCs for academic and commercial researchers worldwide, continuing to support R&D activities such as disease modelling and drug discovery. Additional services such as bulk production of hiPSCs and delivery of pre-differentiated cell populations will be established to facilitate the use of hiPSC in research.

EBiSC2 aims to collaborate with other ongoing or future iPSC programmes in an effort to continue serving as a central hub for the collection, banking, quality control and distribution of hiPSC lines, resulting in secured access for the research community to assets generated with public funds within these projects. Building on EBiSC's established clinical network, EBiSC2 will also progress clinical engagement to support collection and appropriate management of disease-relevant patient data to support disease modelling and drug discovery activities.

Prof. Dr. Heiko Zimmermann, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT (Germany), the EBiSC2 Project Coordinator, states:

Requirements from hiPSC users in academia and industry are ever evolving. To meet this demand, the EBiSC2 cell catalogue will be constantly enriched through on-demand generation of new hiPSC lines, including gene-edited lines and isogenic controls, hiPSC-derived progenitor cells and continued deposition of hiPSC cohorts generated in external research projects. We will distribute cell lines and develop a range of additional cell services, for instance through the supply of screening panels of disease-relevant and control hiPSC lines in ready-to-use-formats, to maximise the value of these resources, whilst reducing operational costs through state-of-the-art upscaling and automation.

Dr. Andreas Ebneth, Scientific Director of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV's Neuroscience Therapeutic Area (Belgium), the EBiSC2 Project Leader, comments:

Proof-of-concept studies will be performed jointly by academic and pharmaceutical partners to demonstrate the reliability and robustness of the EBiSC lines for disease modelling and screening. The extensive data generated within those studies will further enrich the EBiSC2 catalogue. Long-term sustainability of the EBiSC2 bank will guarantee continuous access to an important high-quality, disease-relevant hiPSC resource for academic and commercial researchers worldwide. EBiSC2 may thus support future advances in the field of hiPSC-based disease research with the ultimate goal to discover and develop new drugs for improving the health and lives of people internationally.

At CMAST we are passionate about life sciences and healthcare. Our team of more than 90 industry experts is dedicated to assisting life sciences & pharma companies and universities & research institutes in the creation and development of innovative healthcare solutions.

For this project we were involved in preparing the full proposal and in the negotiation phase, and will be involved in the project management now that the project enters into the execution phase.

About the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 JU

The Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 JU (IMI2 JU) is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, other companies active in healthcare research, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. This approach has proven highly successful, and IMI projects are delivering exciting results that are helping to advance the development of urgently-needed new treatments in diverse areas.

The IMI2 JU is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Through the IMI2 programme, the IMI2 JU has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024. Half of this comes from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The other half comes from large companies, mostly from the pharmaceutical sector; these do not receive any EU funding, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’, for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.

Acknowledgement

The EBiSC2 project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (IMI2 JU) under grant agreement No 821362. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.

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