Ghent university spin-off looks to produce personalized cancer therapies safer, cheaper, and faster

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/koto_feja
© GettyImages/koto_feja

Related tags Nanotechnology Laser Cell therapy

Trince, a spin-off of Ghent University (UGent) that is focused on advancing cell-based science and therapeutics by facilitating the delivery of molecules into cells, both in vitro and ex vivo, has raised €4m (US$4.5m) from investors.

The funds backing the spin-off included Novalis Biotech Acceleration, a Flemish innovation fund specialized in early investments in biotech and life sciences start-ups; Qbic II, the Belgian interuniversity venture capital fund; and a group of experienced private investors also participated.

Trince is looking to grow to 35 to 40 employees within five years and use its technology to improve the quality of cell therapies and make them more affordable.

Cell transfection based on nanotechnology and laser irradiation

Current methods use viral vectors to introduce genetic material into the cells during cell therapy, but Trince says it is developing a safer, speedier and more affordable technology for cell modification that combines nanotechnology and laser irradiation.

The company's LumiPore transfection platform, which is covered by a portfolio of pending patents, combines laser exposure with photothermal nanoparticles to convert light energy into heat to transiently permeabilize the cellular plasma membrane.

The technology can be used to deliver a wide variety of effector molecules - nucleic acids or proteins - into virtually any cell type, including hard-to-transfect cells such as immune cells for cell therapies, according to the developer.

High throughput 

“The method is safer because there is no long term risk as we used fiber encapsulated nanoparticles. Viral vectors form a long term health risk requiring patient follow-up for at least 15 years.

“It is faster because the technology is high throughput and can be integrated in a closed manufacturing environment so there is no need for buffer change or cleaning, etc.

“It is cheaper because we skip a process step, cells are healthier and of higher potency allowing us to reduce manufacturing time by several days,”​ Philip Mathuis, CEO of Trince, told BioPharma-Reporter. 

IP transfer

The technology is the result of a decade of research by the team of Kevin Braeckmans and Stefaan De Smedt, professors at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of UGent.

The intellectual property will be transferred to Trince, and the spin-off will also receive a license on the results of joint research conducted by the University of Lille (CNRS, France) and UGent.

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