New collaboration to develop therapies for the treatment of degenerative diseases

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), Smart Cell Processing (SCP) partners and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) have announced an exciting collaboration with the potential to make a substantial contribution to the development of new cellular therapies for the treatment of a range of degenerative diseases.

The project involves the evaluation of a SCP system, developed by Tokyo Electron Ltd (TEL), Shimadzu Corporation (SHIMADZU), Sinfonia Technology Co Ltd (SINFONIA) and Nikon Corporation (Nikon), in the generation and expansion of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC).

Millions of people around the world are affected by degenerative diseases and many current treatments limit the extent of damage, but do not replace the cells that have already been lost or impaired. Regenerative cellular therapies have the potential to restore these cells and their functions.

Prof Marc Turner, Medical Director, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service said:

“The induced Pluripotent Stem Cells are made by transforming the skin or blood cells of a donor or patient into new stem cells that are capable of multiplying and becoming any type of cell in the human body. The development of a Smart Cell Processing system promises to transform the way in which complex cellular therapy manufacturing like this is undertaken and importantly facilitate the introduction of new treatments for patients with degenerative diseases. This is a revolutionary area of work and we are delighted to be involved.”

One of the key challenges is creating the iPSC to clinical good manufacturing practice (GMP) standard due to the complexity and length of the process. The SCP system has the potential to help manufacture GMP grade cells more effectively than current manual methods.

Director Yoshio Kinoshita, Director of Corporate Strategic Development of TEL said:

“We are excited about the opportunity that SCP technologies developed by TEL, SHIMADZU and SINFONIA will be evaluated by one of the most advanced cell manufacturing facilities in the UK. We hope the project will contribute to cell therapies.”

The collaboration involves the partners optimising a prototype SCP system during initial evaluation, with a view to developing the manufacture of GMP iPSC using CGT Catapult’s source cells in the new SNBTS National Jack Copland Centre in Edinburgh.

Keith Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of the CGT Catapult said:

“Collaboration is key at this stage of growth for the UK cell and gene therapy industry so we are happy to offer our cell line for this project. Clinical grade iPSC could have a huge impact in creating new cell and gene therapy treatments that will make a difference to patients. This project has the potential to help us reach the goal of making it easy to develop the cells at suitable safety and consistency standards.”

Work on the project is expected to start in early 2017 and take about 18 months to complete.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:
“This is an exciting project and another opportunity for Scotland to be at the forefront of innovative global research. I look forward to hearing about its progress and how it might benefit patients in Scotland and around the world.”



Notes to editors:

What is cellular therapy?
Cellular therapy involves replacing or repairing damaged tissue or cells with healthy functioning ones. Blood transfusion, bone marrow transplants and organ transplants are all types of cellular therapy.

What are stem cells?
Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into more specialised cells and divide to produce more stem cells. They can be used to replace or heal damaged tissues and cells in the body.

What are degenerative diseases?
A degenerative disease is a type of a medical condition that causes a tissue or organ to deteriorate over time. Some of the most common types of degenerative diseases are diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis.

What is good manufacturing practice (GMP)?
Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is the minimum standard that a medicines manufacturer must meet in their production processes. Products must:

  • be of consistent high quality
  • be appropriate to their intended use
  • meet the requirements of the marketing authorisation (MA) or product specification


About the collaborators

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) is the specialist provider of safe, high quality blood, tissues and cells products and services in Scotland. SNBTS is a strategic business unit of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS). Accountable to the Scottish Government, NSS works at the very heart of the health service, providing national support services and expert advice to NHSScotland. It also plays an active and crucial role in the delivery of effective healthcare to patients and the public.
John Beaton, Communications Manager, , 07855 136046

Tokyo Electron
Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) is a leading supplier of innovative semiconductor and flat panel display production equipment worldwide. All of TEL’s semiconductor and flat panel display production equipment product lines maintain high market shares in their respective global segments. TEL has located research & development, manufacturing, sales, and service locations all over the world.

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult
The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult was established in 2012 as an independent centre of excellence to advance the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry, by bridging the gap between scientific research and full-scale commercialisation. With more than 100 employees focusing on cell and gene therapy technologies, we work with our partners in academia and industry to ensure these life-changing therapies can be developed for use in health services throughout the world. We offer leading-edge capability, technology and innovation to enable companies to take products into clinical trials and provide clinical, process development, manufacturing, regulatory, health economics and market access expertise. We aim to make the UK the most compelling and logical choice for UK and international partners to develop and commercialise these advanced therapies. Regenerative medicine is one of the UK government’s “eight great technologies” that support UK science strengths and business capabilities.  The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult works with Innovate UK. For more information go to or visit
Helen MacBain, Head of marketing and communications, , +44(0)7891 297018



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