Regulatory Intelligence: Update on Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapies Designations

Feature ArticlesFeature Articles | 13 May 2019 | Citation

This article discusses the scope and purpose of the special designation for Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapies (RMAT) created by the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. The authors explain the benefits expected to be realized with RMAT, such as keeping the US globally competitive in the field. They provide a tally of products receiving the special designation to date and a current count, by year, of products for which RMAT designation has been requested.
Section 3033 of the 21st Century Cures Act, titled “Accelerated Approval for Regenerative Advanced Therapies,” created a special designation for Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapies (RMAT). A product is eligible for RMAT designation if it is a regenerative medicine therapy, such as cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, gene therapy or any combination product using such therapies or products, and is intended to treat, modify, reverse or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition.
Other national bodies have in recent years made special regulatory provisions to recognize the value of regenerative medicine products. For example, Japan’s SAKIGAKE designation,  was introduced in 2015 to promote R&D of regenerative medicines and other innovate pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
RMAT designation has helped keep the US competitive in the global field, while addressing specific needs and requirements of regenerative medicine advanced therapy products. The benefits of an RMAT designation are the same as the benefits for breakthrough therapies and include interactions with FDA to expedite development and review of the product and consideration of the product for priority review or accelerated approval. Receiving RMAT designation also allows for increased flexibility in clinical trial design, for instance, in the number of clinical trial sites. Developers also have the potential to use patient registry data and other real-world sources in post-approval pathways.

While developers seeking breakthrough designation are required to show that their therapeutic candidate would provide a substantial improvement over existing therapies, RMAT designation only requires that the therapy have the potential to address unmet medical need.
With RMAT designations available for more than two years, what have we seen so far?
Table 1 provides FDA’s latest tally of RMAT designations by year. Only 2018 represents a full year. For 2019, the number of requests is at a higher rate (19 requests through 10 April 2019) but the number granted is about the same rate as for 2018 (about 1.5 requests granted per month).
Table 1. Metrics on RMAT Requests by Year1
Fiscal Year Total Requests
Granted Denied Withdrawn
2017 31 11 18 2
2018 47 18 27 2
2019 19 4 8 1
So far, no RMAT-designated products have received marketing approval and no RMAT designations have been reported withdrawn or rescinded.
Figure 1 provides metrics on designation requests by therapeutic area as of September 2018. The largest category is neurology, followed by oncology. This is surprising because scientific publications of regenerative medicines for oncology far outpace those for neurology.2
Figure 2 provides metrics on designation requests by product type as of March 2019. The greatest number of designation requests have been for cell therapy products with allogeneic products outpacing autologous products.
Figure 1. RMAT Designation Requests by Therapeutic Area3


Figure 2. RMAT designation requests by product type4

Table 2 provides a listing of the publicly announced RMAT designations. Twenty-eight have been announced so far. There have been 33 RMAT designations granted as of 1 April 2019,3 thus five are currently unannounced.
Table 2. Listing of Publicly Announced RMAT Designations
Product Name Sponsor Date Awarded Description
Humacyte 20 March 2017 acellular vessel for vascular access in hemodialysis patients
Enzyvant 17 April 2017 allogeneic thymic tissue for Digeorge Syndrome
jCyte 2 May 2017 human retinal progenitor cells for retinitis pigmentosa
Vericel 10 May 2017 autologous expanded multicellular therapy for heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy
StrataGraft Mallinckrodt 18 July 2017 tissue engineered full thickness regenerative skin tissue for deep partial thickness burns
Kiadis 20 September 2017 cell therapy for leukemia
Bluebird 1 October 2017 gene therapy for sickle cell disease
Asterias 2 October 2017 cell therapy for spinal cord injury
Athersys 5 October 2017 cell therapy ischemic stroke
Juno (Celgene) 1 November 2017 car-t therapy for relapsed or refractory diffuse large b-cell lymphoma
Cellvation (Fortress Biotech) 8 November 2017 cell therapy for traumatic brain injury
Mesoblast 21 December 2017 mesenchymal precursor cell therapy for heart failure
Abeona 29 January 2018 gene therapy for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa
Capricor 5 February 2018 cell therapy for duchenne muscular dystrophy
MiMedx 9 March 2018 tissue engineered allogeneic micronized dehydrated human amnion/chorion membrane for osteoarthritis of the knee
Abeona 23 April 2018 gene therapy for Sanfilippo Syndrome type a
VM202 ViroMed May 2018 gene therapy for painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Nightstar Therapeutics 14 June 2018 gene therapy for choroiderema
Caladrius Biosciences 19 June 2018 No-Option Refractory Disabling Angina (NORDA)
Voyager 21 June 2018 gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease
Cellerant 2 July 2018 cell therapy for prevention of infections during neutropenia
AT132 Audentes Therapeutics 21 August 2018 gene therapy for X-linked myotubular myopathy
Avance AxoGen 29 October 2018 tissue engineered nerve graft for peripheral nerve repair
P-BCMA-101 Poseida Therapeutics November 5, 2018 gene modified CAR-T cell therapy for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma
Lifileucel Iovance Biotherapeutics 6 November 2018 adoptive gene-modified cell therapy for metastatic melanoma
RP-L102 Rocket Pharmaceuticals 27 November 2018 lentiviral vector-based gene therapy for Fanconi anemia
FCR001 Talaris Therapeutics (Regenerex) 18 April 2019 allogeneic cell therapy for immune tolerance in kidney transplant
ECT-001 ExCellThera 23 April 2019 multiple myeloma, high-risk leukemia, and other hematologic malignancies
In the following month, the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine plans to launch a database utilizing publicly available and company-provided information to create a public list of RMAT recipients, as well as other expedited approval designations awarded in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Clearly, the RMAT designation program has been very active for FDA and popular for sponsors. We look forward to seeing the first products approved under this program.
  1. Cumulative CBER Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) Designation Requests Received by Fiscal Year. FDA website. Accessed 6 May 2019.
  2. Based on PubMed search comparing “regenerative medicine oncology” to “regenerative medicine neurology” or “cell gene therapy neurology” to “cell gene therapy oncology,” 3 May 2019.
  3. Bryan WW. “Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) Designation.” American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. Liaison Meeting. 13 September 2018.
  4. From Wilson Bryan presentation to the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine Liaison Meeting on 28 March 2019.
About the Authors
Janet Lynch Lambert joined the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) in 2017 as the organization’s first CEO. With more than 25 years in public and private sector management, Lambert is an experienced government relations and business professional with an extensive record of accomplishment. She most recently served as the acting head of engagement for the All of Us Research Program at the National Institutes of Health and as head of the Outreach Office in the Office of the NIH Director. Prior to joining NIH, she was vice president of government relations and head of the Washington office of Life Technologies, aiding the company in its growth from $300 million in annual sales to more than $3 billion. Lambert received her MBA in international business from Georgetown University.
William Sietsema, PhD, is vice president, global regulatory affairs at Caladrius Biosciences, a company that focuses on innovative cell therapies for difficult-to-treat diseases. Prior to Caladrius, he was global regulatory lead at Amgen where he provided strategic guidance to a portfolio of early stage projects in oncology and inflammation. He was also vice president, global regulatory consulting and submissions at Kendle International/INC Research and adjunct professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Cincinnati, College of Pharmacy, where he taught evening classes in drug development. He has 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1982. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Association for Regenerative Medicine and RAPS. He was recognized by R&D Directions as one of the top 20 clinical research scientists in 2007. He may be contacted at
Cite as: Lambert JL and Sietsema WK. “Regulatory Intelligence: Update on Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapies Designations.” Regulatory Focus. May 2019. Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.


© 2022 Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.

Discover more of what matters to you

No taxonomy