Australian government awards funding to Indee Labs for microfluidic chip development

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Spainter_vfx)
(Image: Getty/Spainter_vfx)

Related tags Gene expression Gene therapy Biotechnology

NSW Medical Device Fund awarded Indee Labs funding for the company’s preclinical trial with their microfluidic chip alongside University of Sydney.

Indee Labs will partner with the University of Sydney to trial the company’s microfluidic chip to manufacture curative therapeutics for blood cancer.

According to Warren McKenzie, CEO and director of Indee Labs Australia, the grant is a very competitive public fund by Australia’s New South Wales State (NSW) Government.

The funding was granted after a review by an independent expert panel decided that Indee Lab’s technology had enough potential to benefit NSW’s economy.

The chip is aimed to simplify the creation of gene-modified cell therapies. Indee Labs stated that the chip has the potential to make gene-modified cell therapies cheaper and more widely accessible.

McKenzie told us, “Currently, the price tags for a cure [for rare disease, autoimmune diseases, and cancer] are higher than the average house in Sydney, and lead times may be too long for patients with an aggressive condition.”

However, he furthered that gene-modified cell therapies could be a therapy option for many as they provide cures for most cancer cases with minimal side effects. Through simplification technology like their chip, these therapies can be made cheaper.

The preclinical trial aims to progress the technology provided by Indee Labs that will allow cells to be altered at scale for gene-modified therapies. This has traditionally been done through the use of viruses, which has previously caused issues for regulatory approvals, McKenzie told us.

Instead of using viruses, the microfluidic chip will mechanically disrupt a cell membrane to allow genetic material like mRNA to become T cells.

Indee Lab’s microfluidic chip process has been lab tested with human white blood cells. Results of lab tests showed it to be faster and safer than competing technologies. It was also found to be easier to scale compared to the process of using viruses or ‘electroporation’ for the same goal.

The preclinical trial will be led by David Gottlieb, a professor in medicine at the University of Sydney and Westmead Institute for Medical Research. The trial will compare Indee Labs technology against the electroporation method.

McKenzie added with excitement, “The impact of gene-modified cell therapies (gene therapies) will be similar to that of antibiotics seen during the last century.”

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