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Successful Biomedical Catalyst Funding Award

VascVersa leads consortium to advance new cell therapy for the treatment of chronic non-healing wounds.

• VascVersa, a spin-out from the Queen’s University Belfast will partner with Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and Queen’s University Belfast to develop its new cell therapy.

• Funding from the Innovate UK’s Biomedical Catalyst funding programme in excess of £800,000.

• VascVersa’s new cell therapy, Angicyte, promotes the creation of new blood vessels in diabetic patients.

• Diabetic Foot Ulcers costs the NHS over £1 billion a year.

VascVersa Limited (VascVersa), a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast founded to develop a new form of cell therapy has today announced that it is collaborating with scientists at London-based Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and Queen’s University Belfast to develop its new cell therapy. Innovate UK, which is the UK’s national agency supporting business-led innovation, will provide grant funding in excess of £800,000 through its highly-competitive Biomedical Catalyst programme. During the two-year project the consortium will develop the bio-manufacturing processes needed for a “clinical grade” version of VascVersa’s cell therapy, Angicyte which is essential before the product can be used in clinical trials.

London-based Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service who are partners in the Innovate UK grant, are both leaders in the development of new cell therapies. CGTC will undertake manufacturing process diagnostics and a technology assessment to evaluate options for VascVersa to scale up GMP manufacture. CGTC will also advise on non-clinical and regulatory requirements and assist VascVersa in the preparation for a Scientific Advice Meeting with the MHRA. SNBTS will develop a manufacturing process at scale for VascVersa’s cell therapy product Angicyte under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, and will provide demonstrator cell products for functional, quality and safety testing. Queen’s University Belfast will compare immunogenicity and therapeutic efficacy of research-grade and clinical-grade cell therapy products and establish proof of concept data in relevant models.

The Angicyte cell therapy product is intended to treat conditions where a patient’s blood supply is failing due to blood vessels becoming blocked, a condition known as vascular ischaemia. Diabetic patients often suffer from the condition which causes wounds such as ulcers to fail to heal – costing the NHS over £1 billion a year.

Christina O’Neill, CEO of VascVersa said,
“We are delighted to receive this funding. It represents a huge milestone for our company and provides a strong endorsement of our technology and team. This project will support our work with some of the UK’s leading cell therapy research organisations and accelerate the development of VascVersa’s first product Angicyte for chronic non healing wounds.”

Quote from SNBTS
“Part of the mission of TCAT and SNBTS is to help support academic institutions and their spin-out companies translate their research protocols into therapeutic grade products suitable for early phase clinical trials. We are very happy that this collaboration has been successful in attracting significant funding from Innovate UK, and we look forward to working with VascVersa to design an effective manufacturing strategy for Angicyte.”
Dr Alasdair Fraser, Research Manager for Tissues, Cells and Advanced Therapeutics (TCAT) at SNBTS

Quote from CGTC
“Supporting the journey of new therapies from lab to clinic is central to CGT Catapult’s vision of a thriving UK cell and gene therapy industry. This important project, enabled through a generous grant awarded by Innovate UK, will help VascVersa to ensure that its therapy is ready for clinical trial stage.
We look forward to helping VascVersa to navigate manufacturing, regulatory and non-clinical barriers, to give this potentially life-changing treatment the best chance of reaching patients in the future.”
Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

Quote from QUB
“These are exciting times for Queen’s University Belfast as this Innovate UK project, in collaboration with VascVersa, SNBTS, and CGTC; will bring our academic research a step closer to helping real people. We are confident that this consortium brings together world-leading expertise to enable cell therapy manufacturing of the highest standard and following UK regulatory guidelines”.
Prof. Reinhold Medina, Professor of Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at WWIEM, QUB.

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