University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has obtained a $15 million five-year grant from the NIAID to investigate ImmuneRegen BioSciences’ Homspera in various radiation-induced injury settings. Research will expand on studies already being performed at URMC evaluating the efficacy of this adult stem cell product in mitigating lung injury induced by radiation exposure.
Research under the NIAID funding will be divided into four projects, each covering a specific organ system that is particularly susceptible to radiation: lung, brain, skin, and blood. Rochester researchers believe that cancer patients will also benefit from the award as they uncover new information about how to protect blood vessels and bone marrow from injury due to radiation therapy.
The NIAID award is a continuation of a 2005 grant totaling $24 million under which URMC became part of a national research network called the Centers for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation. The centers were charged with researching how best to respond to a possible dirty bomb or other radiological or nuclear attack. This new award will allow URMC researchers to focus on testing known drugs and experimental agents like Homspera for use as a radiation-induced injury medical countermeasure.
Homspera has been shown to regenerate and strengthen the immune system and enhance wound healing, ImmuneRegen reports. It is being developed for use against infectious diseases as a stand-alone or combination therapy and as a vaccine adjuvant. Additionally, Homspera is being developed for use as a therapeutic for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
ImmuneRegen has inked development partnerships with various companies and academic centers, including Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, HemoGenix, NCI, and the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre.
Commenting on the grant awarded to URMC today, Hal Siegel, Ph.D., ImmuneRegen's CSO, notes, "This funding will enable us to better define the capabilities, some of which we've already described, of Homspera in irradiated animals. It also provides support to our efforts to develop Homspera to mitigate multiple deleterious effects of radiation and as an agent for treating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as well."