The start-up Cell-Easy and the University Hospital of Toulouse have joined forces to carry out a trial to see if stem cells obtained from liposuction could help treat Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in the world. It accounts for 60 to 70% of cases. By 2015, 9.9 million people will have been diagnosed, a new case every three seconds according to the WHO. The disease most often manifests itself through memory disorders, and then other brain functions are affected. Gradually, daily tasks become more and more difficult and it becomes almost impossible for patients to adapt to new situations. The disease is currently incurable and, given the number of people affected, researchers are eagerly trying to at least slow down the progression of the disease. The treatment of stem cells to replace damaged cells with healthy ones is one of the therapeutic approaches that is increasingly being used. In France, the university hospital of Toulouse (CHU de Toulouse) declared on June 14 to 20 minutes a French journal that they will soon launch a study based on stem cells obtained by plastic surgeons during liposuction.
The start-up company Cell-Easy, based in Toulouse and dedicated to the large-scale production of stem cells, is the only structure of its kind in France. It recently obtained an authorization to carry out clinical trials with human stem cells obtained from fat tissue, which is available in almost unlimited quantities in the human body.
“The first challenge for Cell-Easy was to reduce the cost of fat stem cell production by a factor of 10 in order to make this therapy available to as many people as possible. We have succeeded in this. Today we can open our pharmaceutical facility. Actually we already started equipping the laboratory. Production will start in about six months. The production capacity of the plant will reach 100,000 doses per year,” explains Pierre Monsan, director of Cell-Easy and founder of the French biotechnology association in La Tribune de Toulouse.
The clinical trial will start in early 2021.
“We take this waste and turn it into medicine. Although stem cells often come from umbilical cords or painful lumbar punctures, our technology allows us to multiply them,” he explained to 20 minutes a French journal.
For this reason, the start-up has just signed a cooperation agreement with the University Hospital of Toulouse for a clinical study on Alzheimer’s disease, which is scheduled to start in early 2021. The researchers will accompany nine patients aged between 50 and 85 years who have just been diagnosed with the disease in the university hospitals of Toulouse and Montpellier.
Although the disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the brain, which causes protein deposits, the scientists will test the anti-inflammatory effect of stem cells “and their ability to slow down the progression of the disease,” he continues. Therefore, the participants will be injected with stem cells via the bloodstream. Depending on the initial results, the cohort may then grow to about 50 people.
A biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease
Medical research into the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is making great progress. Recently, scientists have discovered a promising clue to establish a biomarker for the disease in the retina. Indeed, the top layer of neurons in the retina of a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease showed a change in its structural texture. Combined with data on changes in the thickness of this layer, the new measurement could be a more readily available biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. Early detection of the disease could significantly improve the quality of life of millions of people worldwide.