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Novel hydrogel technology from Newcastle U for easier storage, transport of stem cells

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 13th, 2017

Newcastle University spinout Atelerix is offering a novel hydrogel technology for the storage and transport of viable cells, including stem cells and cell-based assays, at ambient temperatures. The technology overcomes the current need for cryo-shipping and offers immediate access to stem cell therapy.

The start-up says its hydrogel tech will open up the market for supplying cells and assays in a ready-to-use format, allowing suppliers to increase the range of assays available to consumers and to scale up their businesses. The patented invention represents a dramatic improvement to an everyday process in a rapidly growing market, the company says.

Scientific founder Professor Che Connon has been working on the underpinning technology for five years and calls the hydrogel “a simple, low cost system capable of preserving the viability and functionality of cells at temperatures between 4 and 21°C for extended periods of time.”

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

According to Atelerix CEO Dr. Mick McLean, the company “has a clear value proposition — we enable the transport and storage of human cells at room temperature.” Shipping cells from one location to another for clinical and research use is a widespread and everyday practice, and consequently there are many potential commercial outlets for the hydrogel encapsulation technology.

In addition to its use as a cell transport tool, Atelerix will also use the hydrogel as a stem cell bandage to treat wounds and burns, focusing first on corneal applications.

Atelerix, is the first spin out company created under a new joint collaborative project between Newcastle and Durham Universities dubbed the Northern Accelerator.

David Huntley, head of company creation at Newcastle and overall project manager, said: “Atelerix is an excellent example of the clear benefits of the Northern Accelerator programme. By combining Mick’s business skills with the technical excellence of the scientific team’s world-leading background research, we have created a brand new technology business that we believe will make a real and significant commercial impact.”

Source: EurekAlert!

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