CN Bio and iiCON announce COVID-19 research collaboration

11-Nov-2021

The £174m programme aims to bring together industry, academia, and clinicians to accelerate the discovery, development and deployment of treatments and products

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CN Bio, an Organ-on-a-chip Company (OOC) that designs microphysiological systems (MPS), has announced a collaboration with the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON), a global collaborative infectious disease R&D programme, to validate a series of COVID-19 research tools.

The £174m programme aims to bring together industry, academia, and clinicians to accelerate the discovery, development and deployment of treatments and products. Led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), its partner members are Unilever, Evotec, Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, University of Liverpool, and Infex Therapeutics.

LSTM will independently validate CN Bio’s novel lung and lung-liver models, designed to advance novel SARS-CoV-2 drug discovery and development.

The company’s SARS-CoV-2 3D lung cell culture models were developed as part of an Innovate UK project to improve the efficiency and accuracy of COVID-19 drug development. The company was granted funding to build multi-cellular upper and lower human airway and multi-organ models designed to accurately reflect the human environment and deliver translatable data.

Expanding on the project with Innovate UK, within nine months, CN Bio’s perfused lung models are to be transferred to LSTM for validation, to demonstrate the ability of the PhysioMimix systems to support the full viral life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 and facilitate testing with anti-viral compounds. LSTM will validate the systems’ use in high containment laboratories (CL3) for studies with infectious viral materials and validate the system’s potential to identify PK/PD indices and PD Targets for the development of safe and efficacious dosing regimens of new antiviral therapeutics.

Following initial evaluation, iiCON will maintain access to the technology and its associated 3D tissue models for various translational infectious disease projects. A successful outcome from the collaboration will enable CN Bio to expand its portfolio of OOC models to address a broader and more diverse range of therapeutic areas.

Dr Tomasz Kostrzewski, Director of Biology, CN Bio, said: “iiCON’s commitment to collaborative innovation has enabled our pioneering partnership with consortium lead, LSTM. This collaboration will provide access to the institute’s world-leading expertise in infectious disease research, in addition to the consortium’s outstanding industry links.

“As a result of this collaboration, it is our joint intention that the data generated will be published, providing us with proof that supports the adoption of PhysioMimix microphysiological systems into industry, where they can be used as translational tools to accelerate understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection and consequently, accelerate the development of new therapeutic options.”

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Professor Giancarlo Biagini, iiCON Platform Lead, Head of the Department of Tropical Disease Biology at LSTM, and UKRI Innovation Scholar, said: “Facilitating the industry academic interface to drive forward transformative technologies and fast-track innovative health solutions to our most pressing global infectious disease challenges is at the heart of iiCON’s purpose.”

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