Plasticell wins Innovate UK funding

For £1.6m cord blood stem cell manufacturing project

Donated cord blood is plentiful and contains a high proportion of stem cells with a lower risk of tissue rejection

Innovate UK will provide a grant of approximately £1.3m to a research consortium led by Plasticell for a cord blood stem cell manufacturing project.

The consortium includes the University of Oxford and the Cell Therapy Catapult.

While bone marrow is currently the main source of stem cells for haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), donor cells have to be immunologically matched to the recipient, resulting in demand far outstripping supply. In contrast, donated cord blood is plentiful and contains a high proportion of stem cells with a lower risk of tissue rejection despite immunological mismatch. HSCT from cord blood is currently limited by the low number of total cells present in each donated unit.

Using combinatorial cell culture (CombiCult), Plasticell has tested millions of combinations of cell culture components to develop cord blood expansion media which amplify stem cells by up to 100-fold. This grant will allow the consortium to develop a clinically compliant process to expand cord blood stem cells ex vivo using Plasticell’s media, allowing more patients to be treated with this life-saving therapy.

Plasticell's Chief Executive Dennis Saw said: 'Using CombiCult, our team of stem cell scientists is successfully tackling some of the most difficult problems in regenerative medicine, as is demonstrated by the development of highly effective cord blood expansion media. Since 2007, Plasticell has been awarded a number of competitive grants from the Technology Strategy Board, now Innovate UK, which have funded research projects costing approximately £8.3m in total. These awards recognise our industry experience and continued innovation at the cutting edge of stem cell research and development.'

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