Dr. Jacques Galipeau describes potential of cell therapy to Wisconsin Technology Council

Dr. Jacques Galipeau

Medicine is rapidly approaching an accelerated advance that will augment or replace drugs with human cells for treating a range of intractable conditions, according to Jacques Galipeau, MD, professor, Hematology, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care and associate dean for therapeutics discovery and development.

During a June 26, 2018 meeting of the Wisconsin Technology Council Innovation Network, Dr. Galipeau described the potential of cell therapy as a driver of breakthrough treatments for specific diseases - as well as an economic driver.

He describes the technique as making use of a "living cell pharmaceutical."

As director of the UW Program for Advanced Cell Therapy (PACT), Dr. Galipeau is focusing on using viable cells as treatments for a variety of diseases. PACT recently obtained a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Investigational New Drug (IND) permit to test a treatment for complications of bone marrow transplant.

Under normal conditions, a healthy immune system can keep many latent virus infections in check. But after an immune-weakening radiation treatment during a bone marrow transplant, such viruses can run rampant. A clinical study at UW-Madison is testing a cell transplant treatment to control cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection as a complication of bone marrow transplants, which researchers hope will improve survival, reduce hospital stays, and reduce costs. Currently, drug treatment for CMV can cost more than $60,000 and isn't always effective, he notes.

"Our job is to push the envelope and develop better, cheaper ways of deploying advanced cell treatments to allow access for all who are in need," said Dr. Galipeau.