Innovate UK provides grant for cell therapy preservation hydrogel
Founded in 2017 as a spinout from Newcastle University, UK, and with the support of the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, Atelerix has developed a technology that enables the storage and transport of viable human cells at temperatures between 4°C and 25°C.
This is achieved through encapsulation of the cells in a natural hydrogel, which preserves their functional viability ‘up to weeks’, according to the company. When needed, the cells are recovered with the addition of a ‘cell-friendly’ buffer.
The company has been awarded a grant of £267,000 ($324,110) from Innovate UK, which will be used to apply the preservation technology on REX-001, the lead cell therapy candidate of Rexgenero, a clinical-stage cell therapies developer, headquartered in the UK.
REX-001 is a potential treatment for chronic limb-threatening ischaemia (CLI) in diabetic patients, currently in Phase III clinical development. It consists of autologous bone marrow-derived white blood cells, extracted from a patient’s own bone marrow.
By extending the shelf-life of the candidate, the technology is expected to help Rexgenero “ensure that hospitals have the flexibility for less rigid scheduling of operating theatres, making it easier to treat patients and therefore enabling as many patients as possible to be treated,” the company’s CEO, Joe Dupere, said in a statement.
He added that preserving the product in room temperature also widens the manufacturing options and “should help to drive down cost.”
Although the project will initially focus on REX-001, the technology is expected to have broad applicability to a wide range of other cell therapies, Atelerix stated.
“The critical logistics of getting viable cell therapies to the patient are often overlooked,” Mick McLean, CEO of Atelerix, commented, adding that the technology is expected to open up an ‘entirely new’ approach for this sector.
The project will be additionally supported by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult center.