Improving healthcare for all

After hearts, CellProthera is fixing knees

The biotech firm plans to extend its technology to new indications, including the regeneration of knee tissue damaged by arthritis, while at the same time continuing its post-infarction trials.   

28 Mar 2022

Since 2009, CellProthera has made a name for itself with its unique therapeutic approach. Building on research carried out by the Institute of Research in Hematology and Transplantation (IRHT), which is now being applied to treat leukemia patients and transplant stem cells harvested from bone marrow, the startup has extended its solution to patients having suffered severe myocardial infarction. A single injection of autologous stem cells (CD34+) regenerates the myocardial region. “We address the damage at its source and replace dead muscle tissue to restore normal heart rhythm. (…) We treat a disease that is generally considered incurable, without causing any additional risk to the patient,” enthuses Matthieu de Kalbermatten, CellProthera’s CEO. 

Myocardial infarction kills nine million people worldwide every year. On average, 30% of survivors develop heart failure. The heart is damaged and tries to compensate for the muscle loss. As the months and years go by, harmful events occur that deform the heart and cause increasingly severe symptoms (e.g., arrhythmia). The patient’s quality of life deteriorates. Further treatments and procedures are required (hospitalization, insertion of a pacemaker, heart transplant, etc.). Half of patients die within five years of their infarction.

“Our solution is groundbreaking because it doesn’t just treat the symptoms: it is designed to repair the heart and therefore prevent these symptoms from occurring, with just one injection. The cells regenerate over the long term. A reliable, personalized procedure is used that removes the risk of rejection or side effects,” says CEO Matthieu de Kalbermatten.

Thanks to its bioproduction platform, the startup is able to automatically produce several therapeutic cells at the same time to improve yields, prevent loss, and reduce costs.

These stem cells could have a therapeutic effect in other diseases, such as stroke, refractory angina, or arthritis. The startup is therefore embarking on other projects and is planning to start a clinical trial in the middle of 2022 focusing on tissue damage caused by knee arthritis, to show that cells can stop the degeneration process or even regenerate the tissue. 

At the same time, CellProthera is completing phases I/IIb of its European clinical trial in post-infarction patients. 

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