Fraunhofer IZI supports the Czech Republic in establishing a research center for the development of novel cell and gene therapies

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Funded by the European Union and the Czech Republic with 35 million euros, the Central European Advanced Therapy and Immunotherapy Centre (CREATIC) will start operations on September 1, 2023. The center, which will focus on rare diseases, is being coordinated and established by Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Fraunhofer IZI is participating in the form of consulting, training and a pilot project.

CREATIC's research focus is on rare diseases, including both rare hereditary diseases and various rare cancers. The overall goal of the new center is to bring research and innovation in cell and gene therapies into clinical practice for the benefit of patients. Approximately 30 million EU citizens are affected by one of the more than 6000 currently recognized rare diseases. The significant public health costs are due in large part to the lack of transparency of research and development expenditures and the challenges of access and reimbursement in the respective EU countries. CREATIC aims to develop ATMPs for the treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating diseases that are currently considered incurable.

Fraunhofer IZI is contributing its many years of expertise in GMP process development and manufacturing of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) to the new research center in the form of consulting services and training. In addition, the institute is involved in joint pilot projects within the CREATIC consortium with the aim of developing new effector cells for immunotherapy (e.g. CAR-NK cells and CAR-macrophages).

The new research and development center will be established at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, building on the Advanced Cell Immunotherapy Unit (ACIU) established here in 2010. In addition to Fraunhofer IZI, the University of Leipzig and the University of Copenhagen are involved as international partners. CZECRIN, a Czech node of the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN-ERIC), is also involved.

The Central European Advanced Therapy and Immunotherapy Centre (CREATIC) is funded with 15 million euros over six years by a grant from the European Commission under the Horizon Europe Teaming for Excellence programme. The funding scheme supports ambitious projects building European centres of excellence to strenghten EU R&I system where best practice is disseminated faster across Europe.The second funding source is the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, which is providing 20 million euros for the project. In particular, this will enable the construction of a CREATIC facility on the campus of Masaryk University and its equipment with state-of-the-art technology.