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Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione (ISMETT) is the first hospital in Italy designed and built exclusively for the activities of transplantation and treatment of end-stage failure of vital organs. At the Institute, which launched its clinical activity in 1999, is today perform all types of solid organ transplant (liver, kidney, pancreas, heart and lung) in adult patients, and – In the case of liver, kidney and lung – in pediatric patients.

ISMETT is a project for experimental management (Article 9 bis of Law Decree 502/92) in 1997, thanks to a partnership between the Region of Sicily, through the hospitals of Palermo “ARNAS Civic” and “Vincent Brain,” and UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). The Institute is part of the Regional Health System of Sicily (SSR), like any other public hospital. With a team of specialists and the continuous transfer of knowledge from the University of Pittsburgh results were achieved in line with the best transplant centers, which allowed Ismett to become a center recognized and appreciated internationally.

ISMETT is the result of a proposed public-private partnership that has demonstrated how collaboration and partnership between the need to provide public health of all citizens and the ability of management and organization of a private partner leading international specialties such as UPMC can give excellent results even in difficult situations such as Sicily, with significant impacts on the economy and the image of the region and the rest of the country. ISMETT is the first hospital in Southern Italy to be awarded accreditation by the Joint Commission International, recognizing commitment of the Institute towards a process of excellence care pursued in all these years, both in terms

of clinical outcomes both in terms of organization, management and research.

During the course of ISMETT has become increasingly evident that organ transplants can not be the only therapeutic response to end-stage failure of vital organs. In fact, if the transplants provide excellent clinical results, the imbalance between availability and need for organs is such that it becomes essential to identify other therapeutic strategies. Since 2006, ISMETT has intensified its efforts in basic and clinical biomedical research and development of new technologies and advanced therapies as an alternative to transplantation. ISMETT were made at the first laboratories of cellular production of Sicily, operating according to good manufacturing practices (Good Manufacturing Practices) and entirely dedicated to the development of innovative approaches to therapy phones. In addition, preclinical research laboratories represent a unique situation in Sicily and one of the few in the south-central where are improved, new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. It ‘should be noted that for its peculiar characteristics ISMETT constitutes an ideal center for the development of translational research projects in the biomedical field, and regenerative medicine in particular, since it can bring in clinical products of the laboratory due the type of highly selected patients. For this reason ISMETT is part of the European network EATRIS infrastructure for advanced therapies.

Within the project ISMETT can count on:

  • •Units of Regenerative Medicine and Biomedical Technologies, part of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Advanced Biotechnologies in which is is supported by the Laboratory of Clinical Pathology, Microbiology and Virology ISMETT covering bichimica clinical diagnostics, clinical immunology, flow cytometry, microbiology, serology and molecular virology. The unit includes

-      Experimental Laboratory: equipped for the study of cell biology, immunology, experimental, molecular biology, molecular cloning, proteomics and genomics.

-       GMP Facility, for production of cellular products for therapeutic purposes. E ‘divided into 3 independent laboratories, including one in negative pressure to allow the manipulation of samples also infected.

-    Quality Control Laboratory and Microbiology, for performing quality control and sterility requirements attesting to the quality and effectiveness of cellular products for clinical use. The laboratory also carries out microbiological environmental controls necessary to certify the class of GMP laboratories. It ‘also accompanied by a unit of irradiation necessary for cellular adoptive immunotherapy protocols.

  • Laboratory of Preclinical Research and Experimental Surgery. The Laboratory is currently developing models and pathogenesis of experimental surgery on large animal (pig) on the liver and lung. E ‘under construction – coordinated by the Foundation in accordance with rimed ISMETT Livestock Institute and Institute Zooprofilattico of Sicily – the Institute of Experimental Preclinical and Molecular Imaging, winning project funding PON-MIUR for infrastructure activities. The Institute will be equipped with enclosures for animals of small and large size patogen-free, cellular and molecular biology laboratories, molecular imaging area and areas of experimental surgery.

The activity of ISMETT in the field of Regenerative Medicine is also supported by the Foundation rimed and through personal research funds specifically dedicated to ongoing projects.

At present the main areas of research and development Unit Regenerative Medicine and Biomedical Technologies in the field of cell therapy include:

  • protocols of adoptive immunotherapy against viral infections post-transplant and cancer
  • Applications of fetal cells (from placenta, the organ-specific) programs for regeneration / repair liver and skin
  • Use of mesenchymal stem cells of various origins for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases of the liver and lung
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