Life-science start-up Newcells Biotech Ltd has successfully secured seed investment to build a provision of products and services using stem cells for drug discovery and development targeting pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic customers.
The Newcastle University spin-out company uses pioneering technology to create induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs). iPSCs are derived from the reprogramming of adult cells into a cell which can reproduce indefinitely and be transformed into almost any other cell type, alleviating the need for embryonic stem cells.
Professor Lyle Armstrong, who is CSO of Newcells Biotech Ltd, said: "There are many benefits to using iPSCs in developing drug treatments. Not only can iPSCs be derived easily from any patient, they offer us the opportunity to test treatments on cells with specific genetic make-ups.
"For example if you are researching treatments for Alzheimer's patients, you could use iPSCs derived from someone with the condition to test new drugs. The technology also gives the ability to source iPSCs from close relatives to use as controls."
iPSCs have multiple uses within the development and testing of new drugs including screening potential drug molecules for efficacy and toxicity. The investment by regional Venture Capital firm Northstar Ventures will allow Newcells Biotech Ltd to begin manufacturing new iPSC lines. The company has already received two initial orders.
Investment Manager at Northstar Ventures, Alex Buchan said: "Newcells Biotech Ltd is already making great progress in developing products and services that have the potential to revolutionise drug treatments through use of iPSCs. This is a sector that is growing internationally and it is fantastic to see the North East leading the way in using this technology."
The company has been formed as a spin out from a Newcastle University research group that has been recognised internationally as a leader in iPSC research. Headed by Professor Armstrong and Professor Majlinda Lako, Newcells Biotech Ltd will continue to be based at the Centre for Life.
The investment will also enable expansion of the team and the creation of 4 new full time jobs over the next two years. Mike Nicholds, CEO, said: "The investment we have received will let us build on our research to bring our products and services to drug discovery and disease modelling teams in the biotechnology industry and academe.
"We are excited about what these developments could do for the discovery of new medicines and committed to building our company using the strong knowledge base found in the North East."