EndoStem is a partnership of 15 research and clinical teams from globally recognised academic centres, small biotech and large pharmaceutical companies working together to develop new strategies aimed at stimulating stem cells that are resident in damaged tissue to repair it in situ. This approach is recognised as one of the most promising approaches to targeting stem cells for regenerative medicine due to the alignment with existing therapeutic development approaches used by large industry and recent advances in understanding the key barriers for tissue regeneration. Coordinated by Professor David Sassoon, co-financed by the European Commission via the 7th Framework Programme the aims of the project over the next 5 years are:

 

-    Implementation of clinical trials, with muscular dystrophies as the primary clinical target using innovative biopharmaceuticals

 

-   Development of novel best in class biopharmaceuticals with highly specific and well defined modes of action

 

-    Fast track clinical translation based on a constant feedback loop between emerging patient responsiveness to new drugs and the development of the next generation of therapeutics 

                              

-    Better understanding of the key issues preventing effective tissue repair matched with approaches to circumvent them

                                                

                               

 

To manipulate wound repair to become more regenerative than scar forming, strategies include the use of biomimetic scaffolds, the manipulation of the mechanical environment (for example, negative-pressure wound therapy to increase healing) or the electrical environment, the administration of small molecules, the use of gene-therapy approaches, and the use of cell-based strategies (including administration of epithelial stem cells). All of these elements have been demonstrated to have an effect on in vitro and in vivo models of wound healing as single-agent therapies. In theory, many of these elements could be combined to recreate a receptive environment (or 'soil') to promote regeneration. Combining these with the appropriate stem cells (or 'seed') will undoubtedly alter the result of wound healing in humans.

Image courtesy of Yann Barrandon and Geoffrey Gurtner,

published in Nature in May 2008.