TAIZHOU, Jiangsu, China, January 6 – The Jiangsu Government’s Science and Technology Department has announced a $1.8 million grant – the Jiangsu Technological Achievements Transformational Grant – to support the research and development of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell (hUC-MSC) technologies. The grant recipient and administrator, Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (https://www.beikebiotech.com), is working with Jiangsu University and Nanjing University’s Drum Tower Hospital to fulfill the grant’s requirements.
This grant marks the start of the second stage of Beike’s stem cell engineering industrialization project. The project’s first phase began in May 2008, when Beike opened an 1,800 square-meter stem cell bank in Taizhou’s China Medical City district. In the second phase, the bank will be used as a library for storing and indexing hUC-MSC samples. In April 2009, Beike broke ground on its 20,000 square-meter Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine Industrial Complex, the world’s largest stem cell storage and processing facility. Beike will use a portion of the Jiangsu Technological Achievements Transformational Grant to outfit this complex with over 80 specialized pieces of equipment including fully automated enzyme immunoassay analysis systems, carbon dioxide incubators, and cell viability analyzers.
The grant’s three-year objectives are to systematically develop hUC-MSC technology and its medical application from “bench-to-bedside” – from harvesting, to laboratory modeling, through clinical trials, and finally clinical applications in treating Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other degenerative diseases. In support of this effort, Beike will provide the facilities, equipment, management framework and certain proprietary clinical stem cell technologies for the project. Nanjing University Medical School’s renowned Drum Tower Hospital will be responsible for administering the human trials while Jiangsu University will bring its vast biological research and development resources to the production and animal study phases of the project.
Dr. Sean Hu, CEO and Chairman of Beike Biotechnology, commented on the collaboration saying, “As Asia’s leader in stem cell technology and its applications, Beike is proud to partner with two of Jiangsu’s top medical universities – both already established as leaders in stem cell technology and application. I am confident that with continued support from both Jiangsu Province and China’s government, this collaboration will continue to produce groundbreaking work in the field of stem cells.”
The Drum Tower Hospital will be responsible for the human clinical trials enlisting 200 patients. Dr. Sun Lingyun, the Director of the Hospital’s Rheumatology and Immunology Department, will direct the 140-patient Systemic Lupus Erythematosus clinical trial while Dr. Xu Yun, Director of the Hospital’s Neurology Department, will oversee the 60-patient Multiple Sclerosis trial.
“I have been studying stem cells since 1997 and have seen their healing potential in animal studies and in human subjects,” stated Dr. Sun, commenting on his previous experience with stem cells. “This grant will help solidify China Medical City as one of the primary hubs for stem cell technology research. The studies conducted under this grant will be groundbreaking in the large number of patients they include.”
Dr. Sun Lingyun has worked extensively with stem cell technology both in the laboratory and clinically. This project will build on his earlier publication in the journal Stem Cells, entitled “Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation Reverses Multi-Organ Dysfunction in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Mice and Humans.”
With encouraging outcomes already apparent for MS and SLE, Jiangsu University’s next task will be to create animal models for testing hUC-MSCs potential in other disorders such as brain injury, spinal cord injury, liver disease and kidney damage. Jiangsu University has already made advances in hUC-MSC separation, detection, purification, amplification and quality control. As part of this grant, the university will be researching hUC-MSC growth, differentiation characteristics, identification standards and serum-free medium studies.