Fibrocell Science is teaming up with scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to develop a method for converting dermal fibroblasts into regenerative, functional human cell types for applications in autologous cell therapy. The firm projects the resulting technology could have applications in the treatment of disorders ranging from Parkinson disease and diabetes to heart disease.
The collaboration will combine Fibrocell’s cell multiplication and expansion platform with the expertise of UCLA’s James A. Byrne, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of molecular and medical pharmacology, in the field of converting human dermal fibroblasts into pluripotent stem cells.
Dr. Byrne and colleague Renee Reijo Pera, Ph.D., are the first scientists to have isolated a subpopulation of human fibroblasts that can be reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells relatively easily, Fibrocell claims. The firm hopes the collaboration with UCLA will progress this achievement further into the development of clinically useful cell types. “Fibrocell Science hopes to optimize the current range of clinical applications for autologous cellular therapies and broaden the use of patented Fibrocell Science technology, which can multiply human dermal fibroblasts,” comments David Pernock, the firm’s chairman and CEO.
Fibrocell is dedicated to the development of autologous (personalized) fibroblast-based cell therapies for aesthetic, medical, and scientific applications. A BLA for the firm’s lead product, azficel-T, is currently under FDA review for the treatment of moderate to severe nasolabial fold wrinkles in patients older than 18 year of age. Successful results have in addition been achieved in Phase II/III studies in evaluating autologous fibroblast therapy in patients with acne scars and in a Phase II study in full face rejuvenation. Early clinical data in patients with burn scars and periodontal disease studies have also been promising, the firm notes.
In February Fibrocell published data from a five-patient pilot study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of autologous fibroblasts in the treatment of vocal fold scarring. The trial showed that autologous fibroblasts cultured and expanded in Fibrocell’s cGMP facility and injected into the lamina propria layer of the vocal folds as an outpatient procedure was well tolerated and resulted in objective and subjective improvements in voice quality that were sustained up to 12 months after treatment.