Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) will start this year with the construction of the largest non-profit stem cell and gene therapy facility in the Netherlands, and one of the largest facilities in Europe.
In the ‘NECSTGEN’ facility, the Netherlands Centre for the Clinical advancement of Stem Cell and Gene Therapies, research will be conducted in the field of regenerative medicine; medicine that restores or replaces diseased cells, tissues and organs. In NECSTGEN, researchers are working on the breakthroughs of the future, such as insulin-producing cells grown on demand for diabetes patients.
There are only very limited affordable, non-profit locations worldwide where product development of the latest generation of regenerative medical treatments is stimulated and facilitated. Researchers often get stuck when they want to take their scientific discovery from the laboratory to the clinic. The NECSTGEN is needed to test breakthroughs, scale them up and make them more quickly applicable to patients.
The NECSTGEN is a public-private partnership: researchers and start-up companies from all over Europe and beyond will soon be welcomed in Leiden in order to accelerate the application of these therapies. Financing has been partly secured for the construction of the NECSTGEN, while LUMC is in negotiation with parties for additional funding. Through the NECSTGEN, the Netherlands will remain independent of foreign initiatives and the national ecosystem in biotechnology will be strengthened. The past few months have shown that this type of development is called for.
Everyone in the Netherlands can benefit from developments in regenerative medicine, says LUMC Professor Ton Rabelink: “Currently, patients with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure or diabetes are being treated for years. This is intensive for the patient and costly for society. In the future, with regenerative medicine we will no longer have to do this: you can then treat patients with their own cells, with gene therapy or tissue manipulation. For example, insulin-producing cells grown on demand to combat diabetes, specially made for your body”. Hundreds of thousands of chronically ill people benefit from such breakthroughs. It also reduces the sharply rising cost of care if patients can be cured in the future after a one-time treatment.
The NECSTGEN will be realised in Mirai house located at the largest Life Science and Health cluster in the Netherlands, the Leiden Bio Science Park of which the LUMC is also part. Researchers and start-up companies can turn to the NECSTGEN for the research and development of stem cell and gene therapy products. The Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility will contain 8 class B spaces, 2 class C spaces, and a QC laboratory. The NECSTGEN measures 4,000 square metres in total. Here, academic discoveries will be translated locally into scalable therapies for patients, even for conditions that affect only a small group of patients (called orphan diseases).
The NECSTGEN is part of the collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), who realised a similar facility in Toronto. In addition, the NECSTGEN contributes to RegMed XB (Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders), a public-private partnership of Dutch and Flemish partners.
The LUMC is discussing additional subsidies and investments for the NECSTGEN with the Leiden University, the province of South Holland, the municipality of Leiden, ministries and health funds. At the end of 2021 NECSTGEN will be opened for researchers and start-up companies. For more information please visit necstgen.com.