Urgently verify the possibility of “an intervention by the institutions or by public health to guarantee the continuity of research at the Stefano Ferrari Center for Regenerative Medicine”. This is the request that the mayor of Modena Gian Carlo Muzzarelli sent to the Minister of Health Orazio Schillaci and to the president of the Emilia-Romagna Region Stefano Bonaccini following the start of the liquidation procedure of “Holestem advanced therapies”, the spin-off of ‘University of Modena and Reggio Emilia born in 2008 to transfer to patients the results of the research developed by the Center for Regenerative Medicine.
According to the mayor, it is “a reality of national excellence in the field of medical-university research”, with 14 years of activity studded with scientific successes and the new discoveries “have been transformed into advanced therapies to be distributed to patients”.
Mayor Muzzarelli underlines in the letter that “without an alternative or public support, the cell and gene therapies developed by Professor Michele De Luca and Professor Graziella Pellegrini and their teams will be lost, even with regional public funds”.
After recalling some of the main results of Holestem, the first biotech in the world to obtain authorization in 2015 for the marketing of a drug with stem cells as the active ingredient Holoclar, the mayor points out that the closure of the spin-off Holostem, would lead to the loss of nearly 80 highly specialized jobs and “would also deal a serious blow to the excellent research of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, which would lose the uniqueness that made it famous throughout the world, i.e. the ability to transform university research into real therapies capable of changing the lives of many patients”, therapies that are difficult to find in Europe and internationally.
In fact, on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary, the European Medicines Agency cited the result obtained in 2015 as one of the main “milestones” in its history: hundreds of patients in various European countries – recalls Muzzarelli – have able to regain his sight and see the quality of his life changed.
Other results that the mayor mentions in the letter to Minister Schillaci are those relating to cell therapy for the reconstruction of the urethra in patients, including pediatric ones, with hypospadias, and life-saving gene therapy for the so-called Butterfly Babies, which made it possible to cure them in 2017 the little Syrian refugee Hassan, whose story has gone around the world. It is, Muzzarelli specifies, a highly innovative gene therapy that allows the treatment of different forms of Epidermolysis Bullosa, with a clinical trial underway at the Policlinico Hospital.