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Steady progress in regenerative medicine with precise temperature control
Regenerative medicine is a ground-breaking field that is slowly gathering momentum in finding remarkable cell therapy solutions. Working in this highly specialized regenerative medicine arena requires top scientific skills and exceptional lab equipment.
The Inserm Unit is a specialist research facility in Montpellier, France that is dedicated to stem cell research and immunotherapy. Staffed by 150 scientists and engineers, it is part of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine Biotherapy (IRMB), which is in turn associated with the University of Montpellier (CHU Montpellier).
Headed by Romain Desprat, (PhD,. MSc.), who is the Core Facility Manager, it focuses on continually enhancing its scientific and medical expertise on regenerative medicine. Romain has been in charge of the Unit for seven years and oversees not only scientific and research operations, but also the acquisition of funding from a wide variety of sources to progress its pioneering work. The additional reliability provided by three new incubators from PHCbi has enabled the institute to strengthen its expertise and enhance its knowledge of this fascinating specialist field.
The Institute is organized into four different teams, each specialized on specific areas of research. It is supported by national organizations in health biology that are dedicated to stem cell research, including ECELL France, a French Research Infrastructure for mesenchymal stem cell-based therapies, and INgESTEM, a research and development platform open to external users. Its work is also supported by national initiatives, such as Labex.
Developing new techniques and finding innovative solutions in cell therapy
The scope of the Unit’s work includes developing a variety of potential initial treatments stages for diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The institute employs a wide range of cutting-edge cell therapy techniques, including; cell reprogramming, ageing, epigenetic, mesenchymal stem cell biology, innovative immunotherapy, bioinformatics and molecular modelling. Some of the most recent studies published from the Unit are focused on subjects such as: healthy DNA; somatic cell reprogramming; cellular senescence an important role in the aging process that is often associated with age-related diseases and tumor dormancy.
"The introduction of iPSCs production at clinical grade has allowed us to include the platform in European H2020 funding. iPSpine aims to study and develop a new advanced therapy drug (ATMP) of the future, based on a new approach to developmental biology involving induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to be produced by the SAFE-iPS platform and whose differentiated cells will be integrated and biomaterials compatible. The iPSPine consortium will develop and carry out a proof of concept and a preclinical efficacy study in dogs. Thus, our ambition through this project is to position INGESTEM/SAFE-iPSC at National- and European level on the development of ATMP from iPS. This European program represents one of the first programs dedicated to the implementation of all regulatory and scientific elements for the use of differentiated cells from iPSC to be produced by the Montpellier node.’"
PHC incubators and ULT freezers considered the best choice
The Unit has invested in equipment to carry out its research. It now has three PHCbi incubator models, which are the MCO-19AIC-PE, MCO-170MUVH-PE and MCO-170AICUVH-PE models. The incubators were purchased in (6 years). These incubators deliver reliable service for the whole laboratory. They are far more reliable and accurate than the previous appliances that the Unit used. They have also enabled the Inserm Unit to optimize its limited laboratory space, thanks to the stackability of the incubators. They are arranged on top of each other to occupy minimal space (with dimensions of 620mm x 750mm x 905mm). The ULT freezers that it has purchased include a single MDF-DU500VX/502VX/502VH and two MDF-C2156VAN-PE units.
One factor in the eventual selection of the PHCbi equipment was its reasonable cost. “We are continually working to secure funding for our research. This fund raising is varied. It includes small amounts that are important for purchasing items of equipment, like the PHC incubators and ULT freezers, as well as funding individual phd students and their projects. The amounts for these range from €50,000 euros per year funding for one PhD project to millions of euros for advanced equipment.”
“The PHCbi incubators and ULT freezers provide a good value solution and increased reliability compared to our previous equipment,” said Romain. “Cost, reliability, security, performance and accuracy are the most important elements in our purchasing decisions.”
Meeting stringent regulation
The unit adheres to standard laboratory protocols which are defined by EU and international clinical regulations. As the regulatory landscape evolves, these are set to be strengthened further over the next few years. Clinical grade production involves a double measurement in real time of all values (temperature, percentage of O2 and CO2).
The incubators and ULT freezers from PHCbi provide high-precision and performance to deliver to the current exact standards. “Of course, we follow industry guidelines, which are developing all the time. Within our specialized field, these guidelines are anticipated to change within a few years,” said Romain. “When we purchased the PHCbi units, we knew they could deliver to our highquality standards for two- to three-years. And we consider this a very good return on investment. With an excellent relationship with our PHC representative, we provide input as to how the products can be improved further in the future with regard to meeting future industry quality standards.”