1. VeriStem Technologies, a spin-off from A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), has been awarded the Biospectrum Asia-Pacific Emerging Companies of the Year Award 2013. Shortlisted from start-up companies spanning the biotechnology, medical technology, and pharmaceutical sectors across the Asia-Pacific region, winners are chosen for developing innovative technology that has the potential to bring out revolutionary changes in the healthcare industry. As one of this year's recipients, VeriStem Technologies has won the award for its highly-effective tools that enable the development and manufacture of safe stem cell therapies.
2. VeriStem was founded in 2009 in Singapore by its president Alan Moore and chief operating officer Keith Wang, using core technologies that were developed by a team at BTI led by Dr Miranda Yap, Dr Andre Choo, and Dr Steve Oh.
3. Having the ability to differentiate into any type of cell in the body, stem cells have the potential to be used to cure diseases or repair malfunctioning body parts. However, the ability to grow, multiply and change rapidly also poses a threat as these cells can become cancerous.
4. The team at BTI had developed an antibody that is able to target only the unstable undifferentiated stem cells and eradicate them within 30 minutes, leaving the stable differentiated stem cells untouched (Figure 1). This important discovery helps to reduce the risk of tumour formation, which can arise from undifferentiated stem cells.
5. VeriStem Technologies brings promising implications for the future of stem cell therapies. Dubbed the Cellradication technology, this method that is able to selectively target and kill undifferentiated stem cells is now licensed for research use worldwide. The company continues to seek partnerships with leading companies to develop bioprocesses for stem cell therapies, and is looking for opportunities in the field of cancer stem cells.
6. Said Alan Moore, President of VeriStem Technologies, "We are honored and very excited to receive the award. Given the rapid development and innovation in the region, recognition of our company and the potential value of our technology is a source of great pride. It is also a welcome recognition of the technology developed at A*STAR's BTI and the vision of our Chairman, Dr Daniel Wang".
7. Dr Andre Choo, lead scientist at BTI who worked on the antibody technology, added, "It is an honor for us to be part of this award with VeriStem Technologies. It affirms our belief that the technology can be applied to kill residual stem cells thus eliminating the risk of teratoma formation, making cell transplantation safer".
Annex A: Figures
Figure 1. Untreated human embryonic stem cell (hESC)
Figure 2. hESC after treatment with antibody
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About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and six consortia & centres, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their immediate vicinity.
A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, and with other local and international partners.
For more information about A*STAR, please visit http://www.a-star.edu.sg.
About the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI)
Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) is a member of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Established in 1990 as the Bioprocessing Technology Unit, it was renamed the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) in 2003. The research institute's mission is to develop manpower capabilities and establish cutting-edge technologies relevant to the bioprocessing community. Some of the key research areas include expression engineering, animal cell technology, stem cell research, microbial fermentation, downstream purification and analytics.
For more information about BTI, please visit http://bti.a-star.edu.sg.
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