Translating academic research to clinical products: The case for improved interaction between academia and industry
Most commercial cell therapies originate form research funded at academic institutions. Yet despite the large amount of funding invested in academic research, the number of therapies that reach commercial stage is low, and the pace at which such translation occurs has been lagging.
Over the last few years, the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society-Europe (TERMIS-EU) Industry Committee as well as its TERMIS-Americas (AM) counterpart has been involved in supporting programs aimed at addressing challenges associated with translating academic research into commercial cell therapy products. The TERMIS-EU Industry Committee has also strongly encouraged a tighter interaction between academics and industry via collaborative projects.
A number of findings from these efforts were outlined in 2014, in an opinion paper titled “Translating cell-based regenerative medicines from research to successful products: challenges and solutions,” and published in Tissue Engineering Part B Reviews. Authored alongside three Termis-EU Committee members, the manuscript outlined the consortium’s position on the challenges faced in speeding up the time it takes for academic research to be translated into practice.
On the heels of such efforts, a collaboration between the Leiden University Medical Center, the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) in Utrecht, Royal Free Hospital, University College London and the Technical University Munich’s Cells Interdisciplinary Center for Cellular Therapies, resulted in a manuscript addressing the current state of the industry-academic translation of cell therapies.
The manuscript is titled “Development of cell therapy medicinal products by academic institutes” and was published this Spring in Drug Discovery Today.
Issues such as lack of industrial feedback to academic institutions when developing research projects are discussed – which may be contributing to low clinical progression of academic discoveries, indicating that programs to support tighter interaction between academia and industry are not only welcome, but necessary.
Moreover, the case is made for academic institutions, being critically involved in workforce training, to collaborate more tightly with industry on targeting, through research as well as training and educational programs, industrially relevant and in-demand skills that will allow for a more integrated and targeted approach to be developed among researchers at the academic level which can directly benefit clinical translation.