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Cell therapy spinout targets liver repair treatment

Photo credit: University of Edinburgh


Advanced liver damage could be treated and repaired instead of requiring a transplant thanks to a University of Edinburgh spinout company.

Resolution Therapeutics Ltd is developing cell treatments to repair organ damage – including end-stage chronic liver disease – based on a decade of research at the University’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

It has received funding of £26.6 million from Syncona Ltd, a specialist healthcare investment company. The investment is expected to enable Resolution to gain early clinical data for its first product.

The new biopharmaceutical company is developing macrophage cell therapies.

Macrophages are immune system cells involved in responses to injury, including the wound-healing process. Resolution is exploiting the ability of macrophages to stimulate organ repair following damage caused by disease.

Resolution’s first programme is an engineered macrophage to treat patients with compensated liver cirrhosis – where the liver is badly damaged but still functioning.

Cirrhosis is caused by long-term damage to the liver. More than 4,000 people a year in the UK die from cirrhosis with around 700 people needing a liver transplant.

There are currently no therapies available and patients are at risk of progressing to decompensated cirrhosis, where the liver can no longer cope and the patient needs a transplant.

Professor Stuart Forbes, Director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and his research team have been working for a decade on the role of macrophages in organ repair, with funding from the Medical Research Council.

Syncona has been collaborating with his team since 2018, developing processes to engineer macrophage cell therapy.

The joint team is also working with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) to optimise the manufacturing process and produce engineered macrophages for clinical use.

The spinout process has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.

Resolution’s founders are Professor Forbes and John Campbell, Director of Tissues, Cells and Advanced Therapeutics at SNBTS and Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh.

The company will be based at the University’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh BioQuarter.

Professor Forbes said: “ Our research indicates that a macrophage cell therapy may have a therapeutic effect in liver cirrhosis. By developing genetically modified macrophages we hope to increase the positive effects of these cells, and through this improve the lives of those suffering from chronic liver disease.”

Edward Hodgkin, Partner at Syncona and Chairman and CEO of Resolution, said: “ We are excited to partner with the world-class team in Edinburgh as together we build a business that will develop and commercialise macrophage cell therapies to treat severely ill patients who have no other treatment options.

“It is a very exciting opportunity, and we will be at the forefront of the development of a new kind of cell therapy.”

Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations, said: “ This substantial funding for Resolution Therapeutics by such a credible investor demonstrates the calibre of the research and the promise of this opportunity.

“The way the parties have worked together to pursue their mutual aim is an excellent example of academic research translating into the chance to transform lives.”