Helmholtz funds biobank for muscle cells

Fair wind for the founders of the MDC und Charité: Their tissue biobank was selected as one of six new business ideas that are going to be funded by Helmholtz. “MyoPax” will store patient's muscle stem cells until regenerative therapies are approved.

Rare muscular dystrophies destroy tissue stem cells within the muscle. This eliminates any chance for those affected to recover through stem cell-based treatments. Intensive research on these treatments is currently underway. MyoPax is the first biobank for muscle tissue at drug level that is expected to enable patients to benefit from these treatments in the future.

The MyoPax team: Janine Kieshauer, Simone Spuler, Verena Schöwel and Andreas Marg (from left to right)

Storing valuable muscle stem cells until a therapy becomes available

The team led by Dr. Verena Schöwel and Professor Simone Spuler of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint facility of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, is working on regenerative treatments for muscle loss to cure more than 50 hereditary, previously incurable muscular diseases. They use a patented procedure to extract primary muscle stem cells from routine biopsies.

The researchers can then repair genetic defects in these stem cells, multiply them as muscle cells, and regenerate tissue. The MyoPax biobank will store the processed tissue samples for patients until the procedure has been completely developed and officially approved. It is currently undergoing preclinical testing. The MDC's technology transfer team supports the entrepeneur's undertaking.

Annual funding by Helmholtz for founders

Apart from MyoPax, five other spin-off projects were included in the program during the current round of calls for “Helmholtz Enterprise”. Over a period of twelve months, each of the founders receive up to 260,000 euros in funding and go through a number of support programs to turn their business idea into a reality. Since 2005, 176 spin-offs have emerged from the Helmholtz Centers. Approximately half of them were funded by Helmholtz Enterprise.

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