NUIG spin-out Orbsen Therapeutics joins €6m EU FP7 biotech project

23 Apr 2014

NUI Galway biotech spin-out Orbsen Therapeutics is to partner with the University of Birmingham in the €6m EU FP7 funded MERLIN project to develop a cell therapy inflammatory liver disease.

Orbsen, which is a spin-out from NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), will take part in the EU FP7-funded project known by the acronym MERLIN (MEsynchymal stem cells to Reduce Liver INflammation), which is led by Professor Phil Newsome, clinical director of the Birmingham University Stem Cell Centre.

MERLIN will advance Orbsen’s proprietary cell therapy to a Phase 2a clinical trial in patients with inflammatory liver disease.

This MERLIN project will evaluate the Orbsen cell therapy in four different research laboratories across Europe and the project will culminate in a Phase 2a clinical trial of the therapy in the crippling inflammatory liver disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.

Clinical trials

This is Orbsen’s fourth success in attracting FP7 funding (the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research), making them one of Ireland’s most successful private companies in this funding programme and now connects Orbsen to 23 global collaborators.

Orbsen’s CEO Brian Molloy said: “Orbsen has secured substantial amounts of research funding in the last 18 months which will further validate our product and bring us through to a ‘first in man’ clinical trial in 2015/16.

“Our model has always focused on putting the ‘science first’ and we have successfully used that approach to develop a technology that could potentially position us and indeed Ireland at the leading edge of European Cell Therapy development.”

The total research budget for the MERLIN project is close to €6m of which €1m will go directly to Orbsen Therapeutics over the four-year period of the project.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years