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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.

Dr Ruchi Sharma, CEO and founder of Stemnovate, with members of the team in the Maia building on the Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Ruchi Sharma, CEO and founder of Stemnovate, with members of the team in the Maia building on the Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell

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.

Stemnovate’s hjeart cells from IPSC expressing Alpha-actinin 2 expressed in cardiac muscles
Stemnovate’s hjeart cells from IPSC expressing Alpha-actinin 2 expressed in cardiac muscles

“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.

Stemnovate’s liver cells from iPSC expressing E-CADHERIN
Stemnovate’s liver cells from iPSC expressing E-CADHERIN

“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.

Stemnovate's iPSC line from skin cells
Stemnovate's iPSC line from skin cells

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.

Read more

How Stemnovate will change drug development with its liver-on-a-chip technology

Genetic alchemy: How Yichen Shi at Axol Bioscience takes blood cells and turns them into brain cells

Elpis BioMed: Mastering the art of reprogramming human cells

Mogrify cell therapy technology attracts further $16m funding

How AstraZeneca achieved a fivefold increase in its new medicines success rate



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