The head of the Cell and Tissue Engineering Facility of FNUSA-ICRC Associate Professor Irena Koutna, Ph.D. is now collaborating with Dr. Quinn Peterson of Mayo Clinic‘s Center for Regenerative Medicine.
The collaboration aims to translate research into induced pluripotent stem cells into clinical applications. “The aim of the whole project is to prepare a cell structure that would be able to replace the function of dysfunctional pancreatic cells that are responsible for insulin production and thus restore natural insulin production in patients with type I diabetes,” said Koutná. Induced pluripotent stem cells, so-called iPSC, will be produced in Brno and sent to the USA, where they will undergo processes of controlled differentiation into the pancreatic cells. “Our translational research must answer questions about cell safety in particular. The big benefit is that Mayo Clinic has vast experience in preclinical animal testing which can dramatically expedite translation of this technology,” Koutná added.
In the Czech Republic, FNUSA-ICRC is currently the only institution that can handle similar tasks. “My team’s task is to prepare cells of sufficient quality. Although there are already attempts of similar artificial structures in the world, many experiments fail because of insufficient quality of primary cells,” emphasized Koutná.
FNUSA-ICRC has been collaborating with Mayo Clinic researchers for nearly 10 years, including cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s disease research. So far, the collaboration between the two institutions has produced nearly 200 articles in professional journals, and a new diagnostic method and devices protected by a joint patent of both institutions at the US Patent Office (see below). Thanks to cooperation with Mayo Clinic, several young researchers from FNUSA-ICRC have also received an international award of the type “Young Researcher of the Year”, for example from the American Cardiology Association or the American Alzheimer Association.