The Cytonet Group is an international biotechnology company with sites in Weinheim, Heidelberg and Hannover, Germany and Durham, NC, USA. Cytonet has 60 employees and develops, produces and markets cell-therapeutic products which offer gentle alternatives for extant therapies e.g., organ transplantations. In order to provide a liver cell preparation for the treatment of urea cycle defects (UCDs), cells from donated livers (obtained from organ procurement organizations in the US) are gently isolated and processed in a complex procedure developed by Cytonet. Cytonet also provides blood stem cell and bone marrow preparations for the therapy of leukemia and other malignant diseases.
Managing directors are Dr. Wolfgang Rüdinger and Dipl.-Kfm. (MBA) Michael J. Deissner. Cytonet was founded by a demerger from the Roche Group in April 2000. The Dietmar Hopp family owns the majority of shares.
About urea cycle disorders and liver cell therapy
UCDs are severe and life-threatening disorders of the ammonia (NH3) metabolism in the liver. The most severe types are carbamoylphosphate synthetase (CPS) 1 deficiency, ornithine-transcarbamylase(OTC) deficiency, and argininosuccinate-synthetase(ASS) deficiency (citrullinemi). UCDs are based on disorders of different enzymes involved in NH3-detoxification. Neurotoxic NH3 accumulates in the UCD-patient’s bodies which leads - depending on the severity of the disease - to massive damage of the nerves and the brain, and can be fatal. Children who remain untreated rarely have a normal physical and mental development.
The only currently available cure - liver transplantation - is hardly accomplishable in neonates. Therefore a therapy using healthy and metabolism-competent human hepatocytes for infusion has been investigated and further developed over the past years. Its overall goal is an effective compensation of the metabolism disorder, whereat Cytonet closely cooperates with internationally leading metabolism centers.
The SELICA study on liver cell therapy as a treatment for inborn errors of liver metabolism in neonates and infants is currently ongoing In Germany and the USA.
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