Q&A with Flyn McKinnirey, R&D Manager at Regeneus

Q. What is your background and experience in the regenerative medicine and stem cell space? How did this lead you to Regeneus?
A. I’d always had a love for medical research, however found myself working in the pharmaceutical industry after university prior to joining Regeneus. After 6 years in the pharma industry, I’d decided I needed to get back to a research focused career. The timing was perfect when I saw an opening at Regeneus in 2013. Since then, I’ve worked closely in the development of all our products at Regeneus. I believe my pharma experience benefited my approach to research and assisted in our journey to commercialisation.

After many years in animal product development, my research moved to a more human product focus including a PhD on improving the functionality of Medicinal Signalling Cells (MSCs). This year I have published work on improving the functionality of donor MSCs and endeavour to add to that body of work. The research paper is available through Nature Journal here and listen here for my summary of my publication.

Q. Tell us about your role as a Research and Development Manager at Regeneus?
A. My role as Research and Development Manager at Regeneus is to oversee the day-to-day operations of our research scientists in our laboratories and provide technical guidance to our partners and contract manufacturing organisations. I work closely with our clinical partners in Japan and our Contract Manufacturing Organization (CMO) in the United States to ensure a smooth delivery of our Phase 2 Progenza™ product. I’m always researching ways we can improve our production and testing methods to ensure our Phase 2 Progenza™ product is successful.

Q. What is your focus for the next 12 months?
A. The main areas I will be focusing over the next 12 months are technical management and guidance for our Phase 2 trial and further development towards commercialisation. This includes development of key data packages for Progenza™ and our other technologies. My team’s ongoing support to our partners is crucial in ensuring we successfully develop and manufacture the best products we can for clinical efficacy. Successful clinical outcomes don’t exist without thorough research, so my team and I will always be investigating new and innovative ways to enhance successful patient outcomes.

Q. What do you believe is next for regenerative medicine and what role do you think Regeneus can play in advancing the sector?
A. At Regeneus, our patent position is extremely strong which goes hand in hand with our drive for change to improving and developing our technologies to enhance treatment for pain and osteoarthritis. I believe if there is one positive to come out of a tragedy like COVID-19 it is the widespread acceptance of genetic material in mRNA vaccines which are proven and are still being improved. This opens the door for many other cell and gene based therapies to become a therapy of choice rather than a last resort. I believe the pandemic has also increased the suitability for hospitals and clinic to store cryopreserved therapies, often a bottleneck in providing “off the shelf” technology.

A lot of research, not only from our laboratory but others, has gone into improving the functionality of cell-based products that undergo a cryopreservation step. Our novel techniques ensure excellent cell recovery and functionality, and our patent portfolio means we maintain this as our point of difference as the industry trends more toward this kind of treatment.

Q. What are you most excited about for Regeneus’ technology and as a company?
A. There’s always been a drive at Regeneus towards making a difference, to offer better treatment options for patients suffering from pain and osteoarthritis. This drive is key to the constant improvement of our technologies, our commitment to furthering our knowledge, and is why I believe in what we do.

The cell and gene space is relatively new which makes for exciting times to come. Targeted biological therapy using genetic and cellular material like Progenza™ is an exciting movement for modern medicine and I’m happy to be a contributor to improving patients’ lives.