Newcastle firm uses seaweed to transport stem cells in ground breaking new system

[UK] A pioneering North East science company has developed a ground breaking way of transporting stem cells, by enclosing them in seaweed.

The technology, which has been developed by Newcastle University spin-out Atelerix, uses a gel made from seaweed to protect human cells without having to freeze them.

Atelerix’s new system makes it simpler to transport cells used in stem cell therapy, and allows them to be delivered in a ready to use format.

Scientific founder, professor Che Connon of Newcastle University, has been working on the technology for five years.

The company is now planning to target three main markets, with the first being selling to companies that supply cells for research and development purposes. The firm is also planning to sell its services to cell therapy and regenerative medicine companies directly.

Atelerix is also focusing on the development of a stem cell bandage, called StemGel, which can be used to treat injuries, burns, and wounds. It will initially be used on the outer layer of the eye.

Newcastle University spin-out company Atelerix has developed a new way of storing stem cells in a gel made form seaweed

Prof Connon said: “Encapsulating cells in the alginate hydrogel is a simple, low cost system capable of preserving the viability and functionality of cells at temperatures between 4°C and 21°C for extended periods of time.

“Used as a method of cell storage and transport, it overcomes the acknowledged problems associated with cryo-shipping. Cells are encapsulated by in… the gel for shipping in plates or vials, and can be rapidly released from the gel by the addition of a simple buffer.”

Dr Mick McLean, CEO for Atelerix, said: “Understanding both the technology and its commercial potential is essential for the translation of great science into an exciting business opportunity.

“Putting these elements in place by working together with the expert scientific team means that Atelerix has a clear value proposition – we enable the transport and storage of human cells at room temperature.”

Professor Che Connon of Newcastle University

The company is the first spin out to be created un the Northern Accelerator programme, a joint project between Newcastle and Durham University.

The Northern Accelerator project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It aims to create high-tech spin-out companies by attracting talented business leaders to the North East.

 

Photo: (L-R) Prof. Che Connon and Dr. Stephen Swiokio from Newcastle University

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