Pro-life biotech company receives major grant

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

CORALVILLE — Cellular Engineering Technologies, Inc. (CET), a biotechnology company, has received a $720,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health that will advance the company’s pro-life approach to treating diseases.

For the past two decades, CET has worked in conjunction with John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JPIIMRI), an Iowa City-based nonprofit organization, to create alternatives to medical research and treatments that use embryonic stem cells. The Catholic Church teaches that each human being is a person from the moment of conception and recognizes each individual’s rights, including at the embryonic stage.

The organizations have been working to find ways to use adult stem cells to treat a variety of diseases and to reduce demand for embryonic stem cell research and treatments. Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells that multiply by cell division to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. Researchers can harvest these adult stem cells without destroying a human life, unlike the harvesting of embryonic stem cells.

Pluripotent stem cells are adult stem cells that researchers reprogram into embryonic-like stem cells. The grant funds research on Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC), according to JPIIMRI founder Alan Moy, a Catholic who is the principal investigator of the grant. Moy describes iPSC as “pluripotent stem cells that can differentiate into a variety of specialized cells, thereby advancing a technology that could help deliver personalized medicine and improve regenerative medicine and drug discovery.”

A major historic challenge in iPSC manufacturing has been trying to develop a reproducible, safer and cost-effective method to produce iPSC with improved genetic stability during large-scale cell manufacturing, Moy said. A key cause of genetic instability in iPSC production has been the routine use of viruses and cancer-causing genes. CET’s proprietary technology creates iPSC without the need for cancer-causing genes and viruses, which will reduce the neoplastic and infectious risk of future pluripotent stem cell therapy. The journals Future Science Open Access and Regenerative Medicine previously featured CET’s proprietary technology.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health, which provides $720,000 over two years, will allow CET to focus on developing quality controls in large-scale iPSC manufacturing and their subsequent differentiation into neural stem cells. Then, therapeutic manufacturers can use these cells for clinical conditions that include neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, cardio-pulmonary disease and cancer. The grant also provides a subcontract to JPIIMRI to assist in important clinical research.

About Cellular Engineering Technologies (CET)

CET is a biopharmaceutical company located in Coralville that manufactures human stem cells and proteins for academia, industry and government research organizations.

About John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI)

JP2MRI is a nonprofit medical research organization whose mission is to conduct adult stem cell research for its therapeutic priorities that include 1) Neurodegenerative Diseases; 2) Rare Diseases; 3) Cancer; and 4) Chronic Diseases that the biopharmaceutical industry has not been able to address as needed. The Institute conducts medical research consistent within the Catholic healthcare guidelines.


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