London, UK, 25 January 2007. Plasticell Ltd, the UK biotechnology company developing drugs to regenerate tissues of the body, announced today that it has secured a £1.1m Technology Programme grant from the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), to support a three year collaborative research and development project entitled “A technology to ensure optimum cell performance for regenerative medicine”. Plasticell is the lead partner in a consortium which additionally includes University College London (UCL) and the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC). The company will own the rights to all intellectual property and products issuing from the project.
The purpose of the project is to automate Plasticell’s Combinatorial Cell Culture™ technology using process automation from UCL’s stem cell bioprocessing unit and advanced imaging methods from NIBSC, the site of the UK Stem Cell Bank. Combinatorial Cell Culture™ is a proprietary platform technology used to test large numbers of variables in series for their ability to direct the differentiation of stem cells into clinically useful cell types – so far a bottleneck in the field. Automation of the process is expected to increase further the number of experiments that can be performed simultaneously and to facilitate adoption of the technology by the life sciences industry.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr Yen Choo, Plasticell’s Chief Executive, said: “I am very pleased our consortium has secured this highly competitive funding from the DTI, which allows Plasticell to progress Combinatorial Cell Culture™ in collaboration with world class partners at UCL and NIBSC.”
Minister for Science and Innovation, Malcolm Wicks, said: “The UK is an acknowledged leader in this field and we want to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of stem cell research. That’s why we’re supporting the Plasticell consortium on this project, which provides a great opportunity to harness the UK’s world-class expertise and use it to boost our economy and, potentially, our health.
Sir Aaron Klug, the Nobel laureate and a senior advisor to the company, added: “This technology offers a powerful key to the goal of developing pathways for the controlled differentiation of stem cells. This is absolutely required in order to realise the potential of regenerative medicine. The DTI grant is not only a milestone for Plasticell, but also for the UK’s effort in the field.”
Plasticell is a privately held, London-based biotechnology company using innovative, high throughput stem cell technologies and novel drug discovery platforms to dissect the mechanisms leading to differentiation of stem cells, the master cells responsible for tissue development and repair. Plasticell’s research focus is to discover regenerative small molecule drugs. The company also forms industry alliances by partnering its Combinatorial Cell Culture™ technology for high throughput stem cell differentiation, to derive cell lines and reagents for research and therapy applications. For more information please visit the company’s website: www.plasticell.co.uk