CombiCult technology accelerates development of stem cell treatments
Plasticell's high throughput Combinatorial Cell Culture (CombiCult) technology allows a single scientist to carry out 10,000 stem cell biology experiments in parallel and could help speed up the development of stem cell therapies, according to a new study.
The paper, published in the journal Plos One, points to the potential of high throughput technologies such as CombiCult to accelerate slow biomedical research, which the UK stem cell biotech company says has hampered the development of new therapies since human embryonic stem cells were developed in 1998.
Plasticell’s technology allows the discovery of improved methods to create human cell types from stem cells, a critical step in the discovery of regenerative medicines to treat conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The 10,000 individual experiments would have required around 200 years to complete back-to-back.
Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing at UCL, whose research group carried out external validation of the technology, said: 'Discovery of robust methods to differentiate stem cells remains a serious bottleneck for the industry.
'This is a major reason why only two pluripotent stem cell therapies have progressed to clinical trials despite the spending of many hundreds of millions of dollars on pluripotent stem cell translation.
'The CombiCult technology can dramatically increase research productivity, significantly cutting costs while accelerating the development of innovative therapies for serious medical conditions.'
Yen Choo, Plasticell’s Executive Chairman and senior author of the paper, added: ‘Optimising laboratory methods to obtain affordable, industrialised cell manufacturing protocols is absolutely key to the development of cell therapies.
'The paper describes a study in which we used combinatorial screening to obtain a 250-fold reduction in cell bioprocessing costs, through a 50-fold increase in cell yield accompanied by a five-fold reduction in reagent costs via the use of cell culture media comprising small molecule drugs.’
The paper also demonstrates use of CombiCult technology to produce large numbers of rare adult stem cells that maintain and repair various organs of the body such as the brain and heart.
'We believe progenitor cells are key to the discovery of new drugs that regenerate specific tissues of the human body in response to injury, disease or ageing’, added David Phillips, Partner at SR One, the corporate venture arm of GSK, which is backing Progenitor Therapeutics, a Plasticell spin-out company that uses CombiCult to develop drug-based regenerative medicines.