Vinmec to apply cell, gene therapy to treat blood cancer in 2023

October, 31/2022 - 09:00
The application of cell therapy, stem cells in treatment has become a new trend, applying in treatment of many cancer and neurological diseases, according to Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm, director of the by Vinmec Research Institute of Stem Cell and Gene Technology (VRISG).
Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm speaks at the fifth Vinmec International Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy hosted by VRISG in Hà Nội on October 27-28. — VNS Photo Thanh Hải

HÀ NỘI — Vinmec Research Institute of Stem Cell and Gene Technology (VRISG) will apply cell and gene therapy to treat blood cancer in 2023, according to Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm, director of the institute.

Prof. Liêm said that the application of cell therapy and stem cells in treatments has become a new trend, and is applicable in treatments of many cancer and neurological diseases in the world.

“Vinmec has had a project to invest in medical machinery and equipment and receive technology transfer. It is scheduled that Vinmec will start implementing the project in December. After about two months of training human resources, Vinmec will start the application of cell therapy for treating blood cancer,” said Prof. Liêm.

"We chose blood cancer because so far, studies in other countries that are applying blood cancer treatment have brought good results," said Prof. Liêm.

Prof. Liêm said that the method of using immune cells to treat cancer has been applied in other countries in Southeast Asia.

According to Prof. Liêm, there are currently four types of diseases that have been licensed for stem cell treatment, including knee osteoarthritis, cirrhosis, biliary atrophy and spinal cord injury. Currently, stem cell therapy is applied to the treatment of many patients with knee joint and cirrhosis injuries and for some cases of spinal cord injury. In particular, the application of stem cell therapy to treat cerebral palsy is under research.

"We have now completed phase 1 with 30 patients," Prof. Liem said. "The Ministry of Health has suggested we expand to the next phase with 50 patients. In terms of initial effectiveness, it shows that 80 per cent of patients have good improvement in movement, language and daily living skills. For autism, currently stem cell treatment has been applied to 30 cases with different levels of response. However, up to 90 per cent of patients have improved, especially in awareness and understanding of words, while hyperactivity has also decreased."

Liêm was speaking at the fifth Vinmec International Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy hosted by VRISG in Hà Nội on October 27-28.

The conference, themed "Cell Therapy: A New Era of Medicine, attracted more than 500 experts, doctors and prestigious speakers from pioneering countries in the field of stem cells and immune cells around the world.

"The theme of the conference has reaffirmed the role of regenerative medicine and stem cells in discovering new frontiers of medicine. In fact, there are many diseases that have not been treated before, but with the application of cell therapy, patients can be cured or improve their condition,” said Prof. Liêm.

Prof. Richard K. Burt of Northwestern University speaks at the fifth Vinmec International Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy. — VNS Photo Thanh Hải

According to experts, in order to produce immune cells, Việt Nam needs to prepare facilities, laboratories, human resources, and technology.

Prof. Richard K. Burt of Northwestern University also highlighted Vinmec's efforts in building a gene and stem cell research centre with in-depth and methodical research following international standard processes and technologies and effective application in treating diseases such as neurological conditions, autism and cancer.

"I believe that with these efforts, Vinmec in particular and Vietnamese medicine in general, have great potential for further development in the field of stem cells and gene technology in the future," said Prof. Burt.

Prof. Dr. Chi-Ying Huang, Institute of Biopharmaceutical Science, Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, said that Việt Nam can catch up with other countries by taking shortcuts and taking advantage of the available scientific achievements in the world for domestic application because Việt Nam and other countries in the region share similar genetics and physical condition.

During the two-day event, speakers presented important and practical reports in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, respiratory diseases, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular diseases and the application of secretory cells in biomedicine.

Participants also discussed topics with highly practical application in cell therapy such as neurology and orthopedics in efforts to open up the treatment of common neurological diseases that have no cure such as Parkinson's and other difficult diseases related to the spinal cord. Experts also presented outcomes of practical treatment in treating osteoarthritis, stroke, brain injury and liver cirrhosis with cell therapy through research projects around the world. — VNS

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