Recent studies have confirmed that many gastrointestinal diseases are multifactorial and comprehensive understanding of their treatment mechanisms requires a multidisciplinary approach; hence, during the last few decades, extensive interdisciplinary has taken place on multidisciplinary treatment / therapy of gastrointestinal diseases and clinical trials promise optimistic results for utilizing novel methods such as immunotherapy, cell therapy and personalized medicine.

Recent studies have confirmed that many gastrointestinal diseases are multifactorial and comprehensive understanding of their treatment mechanisms requires a multidisciplinary approach; hence, during the last few decades, extensive interdisciplinary has taken place on multidisciplinary treatment / therapy of gastrointestinal diseases and clinical trials promise optimistic results for utilizing novel methods such as immunotherapy, cell therapy and personalized medicine.

Goals and objectives  

Nowadays, the need for centers which direct their activities towards developing new therapies and personalized medicine for gastrointestinal diseases is noticed more than ever before.

 Cell – Based Therapies Research Center  which is affiliated with the Digestive Diseases Research Institute (DDRI), was approved following a directive from the Development Council of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME)  in 1396  and  as a result of the efforts of specialists from basic medical sciences and with the intention to meet this need.
 
The primary objective of establishing this research center was to develop the core activities of the DDRI in the field of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine, as well as development of novel technologies for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases in order to institutionalize the national application of knowledge related to cell-based therapies and products for these disorders to be on par with that of developed countries.  

Programs and activities

Given the novelty of the field of personalized medicine and the safety of such therapies in Iran, the programs and activities of this Center revolve around the following axes:

• Designing new cancer treatments using cells from the immune system and regenerative medicine   

• Developing the necessary infrastructure for devising and implementation of personalized medicine in gastrointestinal / digestive diseases

• Establishing appropriate and constructive collaborations between basic science specialists and clinicians relevant to the field of cancer and gastrointestinal diseases intended to promote research and therapeutic goals in digestive disorders

Divisions and components

The Cell – Based Therapies Research Center  for digestive diseases has provided the necessary research and laboratory space for appropriate research groups to facilitate meeting the national needs of scientific communities and research projects using the capabilities and competencies of Iranian experts.

The Laboratory Collection of the Cell – Based Therapies Research Center  for digestive diseases began its activities in 2011 and includes the following sections:

1. Cell and tissue culture lab: has a space of about 50 square meters, contains all the necessary equipment for culturing various types of human cells, including incubators, class II laminar hoods, centrifuges, fluorescent microscopes, autoclaves, freezers, etc.

 2. Virus culture lab: Includes the necessary equipment for the production and purification of viral viruses, including ultra-centrifuges, laminar hoods, etc.

3. Molecular lab: With a space, including more than 100 square meters is equipped with a thermocycler, gel duct, transilluminator, nanodrop and gel electrophoresis to perform various molecular tests, such as RNA and DNA extraction and various types of PCR.

4. Management facility for laboratory animals: This laboratory with a physical space of 40 square meters and a separate space dedicated for research activities with lab animals, has been serving researchers for preclinical tests since 2012. The lab space is equipped with an automated regulatory system that controls temperature and light, includes cages and shelves for keeping small lab animals in addition to three separate spaces dedicated to proper housing and handling of lab animals, surgical procedures and storage of mice, rats and rabbits.

5. SCID rat maintenance equipment: This laboratory was launched in 2017 and is the only specialized center qualified for handling and housing immunodeficient animals in the country. This lab has a physical space of about 40 square meters, including a clean room, surgical space, and a separate reproduction environment. It is equipped with an IVC system for the maintenance and reproduction of SCID, NSG, and NOG mice.

Given the implications of immunodeficient mice in cancer research, the launching of this laboratory in the country was considered a major step towards facilitating pre-clinical studies which are intended to evaluate the safety and efficacy of treatment methods prior to entering the clinical trial phases. On the other hand, given the need for such animal models by many research centers in Iran, for the first time in the country, the CTRC has begun importing immunodeficient mice in order to meet the needs of other research centers and is prepared to provide pertinent services in this regard.

6. Cleanrooms: Given the necessity for conducting research in the fields of cell and gene therapy in a clean-room environment, a series of clean rooms with an area of approximately 150 square meters was developed by the CTRC, which is available for carrying out cell and tissue processing in tissue engineering, gene manipulation, cell manufacturing and cell therapy.

The abovementioned collection has met the highest standards for the construction and installation of clean rooms in the country and in that respect, is one of the few of its kind.

 

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