Innovation Center for Advanced Therapies

Utrecht is one of the worldwide forerunners in the field of regenerative medicine, advanced disease models, and gene and cell therapies. Therapies in which genes, cells or tissues are modified are collectively known as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs).

In these innovations with living cells, the individual patient is often the supplier of the starting material for the production process and the recipient of the end product in the case of therapy. These therapies do not combat the symptoms but rather the often complex disease with the patient’s own cells, usually in just one treatment. The ultimate in medicine.

While these therapies are promising, they are hard to develop because they require seamless collaboration between experts in a wide range of field. While we have all this expertise present at Utrecht Science Park, experts presently still work from their own framework and in their own environment, which makes the step from a laboratory protocol to GMP-certified production laborious and time-consuming. 

Utrecht is positioned to overcome this challenge

In 2016, academic institutions in Utrecht, Eindhoven, Leiden, Maastricht and Leuven (Belgium) initiated RegMedXB, which stands for Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders. It is a collaboration of research institutions, governments, provinces, health funds and industrial partners aiming to develop therapies for chronic diseases, based on stem cells, mini-organs, tissues and smart (bio)materials.

Subsequently, A National Growth Fund application (total €56 million) was awarded to RegMedXB, with Utrecht receiving €12.7 million. This fund will help overcome the challenge of RM, as it will be used to make a pilot plant concerning RM therapies. In Utrecht we will establish one part of that: the Innovation Center for Advanced Therapies (ICAT).

What is ICAT?

The ICAT aims to improve and accelerate the translation of research into healthcare solutions, by bringing together all relevant expertise and infrastructure for the development of regenerative treatments, Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) including cell therapy, and disease models using biofabrication and 3D bioprinting. The ICAT will consist of three parts:

- Biofabrication Pilot Facility. Organs and living tissues have very complex structures that cannot be reproduced well with existing technology. Biofabrication brings (engineered) cells and biomaterials together, for example with the aid of 3D bioprinting, in a natural or simulated environment to create functional 3D tissue. The aim of this biofabrication facility is to use patient's own material and to implant it back into the patient after reprocessing. A second application is the validation, standardization, and automation of organ and patient-specific in vitro models to predict the effectiveness and safety of therapies in a specific patient or patient population.

- Simulation Facility (GMP). In a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) simulation facility it is possible to efficiently develop, validate and optimize production protocols and to train employees, so that the development and scaling up of production technology and processes can be significantly accelerated and improved.

- Production Facility (GMP). The availability of a GMP production facility with sufficient capacity is necessary to optimize the translation to the clinic and to continue to provide the patient with the best and most innovative care. The current facility has three cleanrooms for the production of both (stem) cell therapies and other ATMPs. This facility will be expanded to 9 cleanrooms in order to meet the increasing demand for, amongst others, the ATMPs developed in ICAT.

Are you interested or do you have any questions please let us via ICAT@umcutrecht.nl and we will contact you