€2m boost for gene and cell therapy info hub
A new EU-funded project team, hosted by the Centre for Regenerative Medicine on Edinburgh BioQuarter, is set to provide accessible and reliable information about cell and gene-based therapies and practical steps required for their development.
The €2m initiative will develop an online hub to provide accurate information on the use of cells and genetic material to treat disease, along with evidence-based information to counter misinformation surrounding the therapies.
Gene and cell therapies have the potential to treat many debilitating diseases and conditions. However, more work is needed before safe and effective treatments can be made widely available, experts say.
The project – EuroGCT: The European Consortium for Communicating Gene and Cell Therapy – is led by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences and brings together 47 partner organisations and institutions from across Europe.
The five-year project will coordinate information from EuroGCT partners to develop a multilingual website that will give patients, healthcare professionals and the public reliable scientific, legal and ethical information related to cell and gene-based therapies.
It will also provide the research community, regulatory and healthcare authorities with information on the practical steps required for cell and gene therapy development.
The project builds on the success of Edinburgh’s EuroStemCell public engagement project, whose website focusses on engaging the public, patients and educators with stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
Knowledge and expertise will be contributed by leading cell and gene therapy organisations, European research labs, experts in advanced therapy development and specialists in legal, ethical and societal issues. Science communication specialists will also collaborate with representatives of the target audiences to co-develop relevant material.
EuroGCT aims to support better informed decision-making by practitioners and patients as well as provide engagement opportunities for patients, the public and other stakeholders.
The initiative also aims to contribute to improved therapy product development, through resources accessible to the research and regulatory communities.
EuroGCT has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
Professor Clare Blackburn. Personal Chair in Tissue Stem Cell Biology, Institute for Stem Cell Research, School of Biological Sciences said, ” We are very excited about this new project. It’s part of our responsibility to engage with the public and patients to increase understanding about new and existing cell and gene-based therapies – especially in this era of misinformation – not least because patients, people affected by conditions and healthcare providers have to make important decisions around these new treatments. Our project brings together leading players in the different branches of cell and gene therapy development, so we can be sure all of the information and resources we generate represent absolutely current, factually correct information. Development of a consolidated resource to help practitioners develop new cell and gene related therapies is also very timely and we are pleased to help lead this coordinated effort.”