Stemnovate offers ‘unique’ multi-organ drug screening on reprogrammed human cells
Stemnovate is now offering multi-organ drug screening and testing on reprogrammed human cells.
Providing an alternative to animal testing, the company’s microengineering platform enables genetic and physiological analysis of drug candidates.
Stemnovate, which has labs at Babraham Research Campus and offices at ideaSpace West in Cambridge, has expanded its licence to use Nobel Prize-winning induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology.
This allows adult cells to be reprogrammed back into an embryonic-like state before they are differentiated into other cell types.
Stemnovate can now differentiate iPS cells into liver, heart, brain and pancreatic cells.
CEO Dr Ruchi Sharma told the Cambridge Independent: “We are the only company providing drug testing and screening in a multi-organ format, using liver, heart, brain, pancreas and immunological cells generated through iPS technology.
“Most other companies provide cells and reagents, so it is usually the end user – a contract research organisation or pharmaceutical company – that has to undertake such work and they often find it too difficult. It takes a lot of time to optimise it.
“We are enabling a better and faster process through our platform, which also has the capability for pharmacogenetics study to understand human drug response variability.”
Dr Sharma said such testing has the capacity to improve the protracted and costly drug discovery process while reducing the reliance on animal testing.
“Non-communicable diseases – like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases – are complex and for novel drug discovery, it is crucial to understand human genetic and physiological responses,” explained Dr Sharma.
“At present, there is a tremendous reliability on animal testing, and this results in adverse events being reported late in clinical trials, leading to expensive drug failures.
“If you get better data at earlier stages, you will get a better understanding and save on a lot of drug failures later on.”
Stemnovate is also known for its liver-on-chip technology and is preparing for the commercial release of the platform early this year, aided by an Innovate UK grant.
For this system, human liver cells are cultured on miniature chips similar to glass slides and perfused with nutrients and media, mimicking organ systems on a microscale.
Stemnovate is also working on other organ-on-chip systems, which could be linked together to take us nearer to the concept of the human-on-a-chip.
It adds up to a busy time for the company, which launched its new website and ecommerce platform last October and will shortly announce its role in a multinational collaboration.
More by this authorPaul Brackley