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While Brazilian scientists reportedly leave the country in search of work following budget cuts, Libbs Farmacêutica’s support for PluriCell provides a beacon of hope for many. Following an angel investment of US$1 million for PluriCell, the group intends to continue developing cardiac cells from stem cells in the laboratory.
“The project is still in the initial stages,” said Lívia Prado, Libbs’ innovation leader. “But once validated, it won’t be trivial. It will be revolutionary. The more initiatives the ecosystem in Brazil generates, the better. Otherwise, we lose competitiveness.”
PluriCell began developing a regenerative cellular therapy for cardiovascular ailments in 2013. Specifically, the startup’s target audience is those prone to myocardial infarctions, otherwise known as heart attacks.
By providing long-term preventative solutions instead of temporary treatment, these individuals will have fewer restrictions in their everyday lives. All the while, authorities must first approve PluriCell’s treatment approved before it goes to market.
“Heart cells’ regenerative capacity is extremely low,” said Marcos Valadares, CEO and co-founder of PluriCell. “Today, there are only palliative therapies that attack the symptoms, not the problem.”
To make this idea a reality, PluriCell needs to go through a treatment validation process before it reaches the public. According to reports, the first part of experimentation will entail testing the procedure on small animals. Researchers will be ensuring that inserted cells remain in the heart.
Once this is complete, the experimentation will then focus on larger animals to see whether or not the treatment improves organ function. If this works, then human subjects are going to be last on the agenda.
“Our expectation is that human trials start in 2023,” said Valadares. “If we succeed, we will have a product in ten years.”
Libbs and PluriCell’s partnership will involve more than financial support, but also research and business management consulting. On average, Libbs allocates around 10 percent of its revenue to supporting innovation projects.
In 2016, Libbs launched the Open Doors program to assist industry newcomers. So far, it has interacted with over 300 startups, both health and non-health related.