The partnership aims to discover, develop, and commercialize cell therapy products to treat liver diseases in an innovative way. This is one of four grants given to life science companies in Massachusetts to fund international collaboration as part of MLSC’s International Collaborative Industrial Program.
Phillip Lee, new business initiative lead for microfluidic technologies, told BioPharma-Reporter.com that the two-year project was spurred by EMD’s innovative microfluidic technology, which can improve liver toxicity models with the help of Promthera.
John Ambroziak, director of strategy and business development, added that “ideally the goal is that we’ll have a product to commercialize at the end of the two years.”
He noted that there will be period checks by the MLSC “on the technical progress. I would say the odds of success are pretty high as there’s good technology from both sides, and the combo of them makes a lot of sense as demonstrated to the review board.”
Through this collaboration, EMD Millipore’s microfluidic technology will enable the researchers at Promethera to mimic the liver microenvironment long-term, allowing for increased consistency and scale-up potential for live cell models.
Using liver stem cells provided by Promethera Biosciences and EMD Millipore’s CellASIC microfluidic cell culture platform, both organizations are looking to improve preclinical liver toxicity testing methods as the current methods for liver toxicity testing are limited by technical challenges.
Lee noted that this has been a high profile challenge for the last seven to eight years to create better in vitro models for liver toxicity. He added that specifically, liver cells “don’t differentiate or behave as they would in an organ for a longer-term assessment... the other challenge is the existing in vitro model testing are not commercially good” as costs are high.
The companies will use teleconferencing and regular meetings, as well as some “cross training between their site and our site,” Ambroziak said.
This latest effort will span many functions and sites within the EMD Millipore network, including experts in cell analysis instrumentation, research content, cell culture systems, as well as a handful of external collaborations with pharmaceutical sites including sister-company EMD Serono.
The partnership was conceived by and submitted to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center by Tim Galitski, head of science and technology at EMD Millipore, and Lee.
Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the MLSC added, “We are also excited to announce the second year of the ICIP Program, including two new partner regions in Israel and Medicon Valley. No one country or region can address on its own the urgent health challenges that still face our global community, and we are pleased to be partnering with some of the world’s leading regions in life sciences innovation. ”
Created in 2009, Promethera is a Belgium-based pharma company with 46 employees. Eric Halioua, CEO of Promethera Biosciences said, “We are very pleased to initiate this collaboration with EMD Millipore and combine expertise to develop a ready to use liver based device.”