Industrial production of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is problematic because the surface coating on which they are usually grown are expensive, subject to lot to lot variability and need to be tested to ensure they are pathogen-free.
Synthemax, in contrast, is designed to provide a synthetic contaminant growth matrix that supports the stable proliferation of undifferentiated hESCs in quantities suitable for cell therapy production.
The other advantage of the technology, according to Corning director of commercial technology Jeff Mooney, is that it can support cell differentiation after multiple passages.
Mooney cited data first presented at the World Stem Cell Summit in Baltimore last September showing that hESC grown on Synthemax were successfully differentiated into cardiomyocytes after as many as 20 growth cycles.
He added that in partnership with Geron Corning has developed “what we believe is the first and only synthetic surface in the world to enable this level of stem cell growth and differentiation.”
Under the terms of the four year collaboration, Corning will be responsible for commercialising laboratory products that use the Synthemax matrix, the first of which, a 6-well culture plate, is already available to scientists in North America.
In return US cell therapy maker Geron, which retains rights to use the technology for the manufacture of certain undisclosed products, will receive royalty payments on all Synthemax sales.
Jane Lebkowski, Geron CSO, described the technology as “an enabling platform” that will allow the development of new therapies, explaining that it “allows for more consistent, reliable and cost effective manufacturing.”