Research at the University of Edinburgh indicates that success of cell-based therapies could be boosted by Proxison

Released: Wednesday 20th September 2017

Cell therapies being developed to treat a range of conditions could be improved by ProxisonTM, which new research undertaken by the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh suggests can aid cell survival.

 CRM group leader Dr Tilo Kunath and his team found that the proprietary molecule developed by Antoxis – a type of antioxidant – helps to shield healthy cells from damage such as would be caused when they are transplanted into a patient during cell therapy. Such procedures are already used to treat people with blood disorders as well as to grow skin grafts for patients with severe burns.

ProxisonTM was found to be 10 times more effective at protecting cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage than the most powerful natural antioxidants tested in the study. 

As many as 90 per cent of cells can be damaged or killed during the transplantation process, which can affect the likelihood of treatment success. Pre-treating cells before they are transplanted into patients could help to improve success rates of cell-based therapies. The research team are seeking to develop such approaches to treat conditions including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

In the study, cells were exposed to a toxic substance, mimicking the shock that cells experience when transplanted. They then tested whether treating cells with antioxidants could protect them from damage. ProxisonTM rescued as many as 90 per cent of cells from death. More than 10 times the concentration of the most powerful natural antioxidant tested was needed to achieve the same result.

Studies with zebrafish also found the man-made super-antioxidant can protect cells from death in a living animal. Dr Kunath is interested in whether antioxidants can help boost the chances that a range of cell therapies will work as many more patients may be able to benefit from these treatments if cell survival could be significantly improved.

Lead researcher Dr Tilo Kunath, of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“We found ProxisonTM to be a potent antioxidant that is very effective at protecting cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage”

 ProxisonTM is a proprietary compound developed by Antoxis, which provided funding for the study. The novel antioxidant was designed based on a natural compound found in fruit and vegetables. The team made small modifications to the chemical structure to generate a super-antioxidant that they hope to develop into a potential new drug.

 Professor Andy Porter, Chair of Antoxis Ltd, said:

 “Scientists from both academic and commercial spheres are at the forefront of developing new cell based therapies for a range of debilitating diseases.  However, there remain a number of hurdles that we need to overcome before we can fully exploit the potential of this exciting approach in patients”

 “This excellent work in Edinburgh provides a significant step forward in removing one of these hurdles with the potential to increase the efficacy of transplanted cells in patients and allow more patients to be treated from precious resources”

The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports, which can be accessed by following this Link

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