New post by Maaike Suuring
A network of European scientists from academia and industry
focused on developing innovative myeloid regulatory cell
INsTRuCT is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Union H2020 Programme. The INsTRuCT consortium answers a need for scientific and technological innovation in myeloid regulatory cell (MRC)-based therapy research and training. Specifically, it creates a framework for advancing original basic scientific discoveries into novel cell products and processes that will lead to higher quality immune therapies. INsTRuCT combines excellence in basic, preclinical and translation research with an outstanding programme of scientific education and practical training for early stage researchers, who will drive future advancement of the field. Through close collaboration between industrial and academic partners, INsTRuCT seeks innovative solutions to the most significant questions in MRC-based therapy in order to deliver new scientific understanding, new technologies and new treatments.
INsTRuCT is a structured research and training network designed to accelerate the pharmaceutical development of novel myeloid regulatory cell (MRC)-based therapies. The consortium draws upon expertise from academic and industrial research groups that specialize in complementary aspects of the drug development process. INsTRuCT provides doctoral training for 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) across Europe working on projects to develop innovative MRC-based therapies. Graduates of INsTRuCT’s intersectoral, interdisciplinary and international training program will enter Europe’s rapidly growing cell therapy sector to drive future innovation and commercialization.
Mononuclear phagocytes serve specialized immunological roles in tissues under homeostatic conditions, including prevention of constitutive inflammation and maintenance of self-tolerance by suppressing potentially autoreactive T cells. Subsets of macrophages and dendritic cells (DC) also play an essential role in resolution of acute inflammation, controlling chronic inflammation and fibrosis, as well as regulation of T cell responses. The central role of these so-called myeloid regulatory cells in physiological and pathophysiological control of immune responses makes them an attractive therapeutic target across a wide range of prevalent clinical indications, including chronic inflammatory diseases, autoimmunity and allogeneic organ transplantation.
From the earliest discovery that transfer of MRC from tolerant donors to non-tolerant recipients could prevent or reverse immunological diseases in animal models, it was suggested that the same principle could be applied therapeutically in humans. Despite its challenges, MRC-based therapy remains an attractive alternative to general immunosuppressive therapies for two main reasons: Firstly, MRC-based therapy offers the possibility of inducing antigen-specific immunological non-responsiveness; secondly, because peripheral regulation is a self-reinforcing state, MRC-based therapy could exert very long-lived clinical effects. In consequence, MRC-based therapies open the remarkable possibility of curative treatments for common immunological diseases that must otherwise be managed with long-term general immunosuppression. Over the last decade, through innovations in academia and industry, many scientific and technical challenges of manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade MRC-based therapeutic products have been overcome. MRC-based cell therapies are now being investigated in early-phase clinical trials across a broad range of indications, including solid organ transplantation, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Europe has always been in the frontline of regulatory cell-based therapy research. In the earliest days, despite the great controversies, European immunologists were particularly resilient in their pursuit of suppressor cell research. Where basic scientists led, pioneering translational scientists soon followed with first-in-man clinical studies that shaped the current scientific, clinical and regulatory landscape. European companies have been responsible for critical advances in manufacturing of cell-based medicines, including development of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-grade reagents, medical devices and production standards. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and national competent authorities have taken a scientifically-minded and supportive stance towards cell-based medicinal product (CBMP) development in member states, both in academia and industry. Recognizing the need to perpetuate European expertise in MRC-based therapy, leading scientists in the field founded the Innovative Training in Myeloid Regulatory Cell Therapy (INsTRuCT) Consortium. This European Training Network (ETN) provides 15 early stage researchers (ESR) with an opportunity to study for a doctoral degree focusing on the basic, preclinical or clinical development of new MRC-based therapies.