Definigen raises £1.3m for stem cell advance

Cambridge University spin-out Definigen has raised new funding of 1.3 million to advance its stem cell technology business from a UK platform.

The cash will be used to launch new stem cell products for disease modelling and drug discovery.

The company supplies human liver cells (hepatocytes) for preclinical drug development and disease modelling applications using human induced pluripotent stem cell technology.

This is a trailblazing venture for the business and the university. The company represents one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from the universitys expertise in stem cells and is based on the research of Dr Ludovic Vallier, Dr Tamir Rashid and Professor Roger Pedersen of the universitys Anne McLaren Laboratory of Regenerative Medicine.

Dr Vallier led a team, including Dr Rashid, Dr Nick Hannan and Candy Cho, that developed a method to generate stem cells by reprogramming cells from patients skin.

These cells, known as human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSC), can be differentiated into almost any cell type, allowing the opportunity to have a ready source of human cells for testing new therapies.

Definigen has built on this technology to supply hIPSC-derived hepatocytes in a highly reproducible and scalable manner for commercial use.

Through its OptiDIFF platform, Definigen produces validated libraries of disease modelled human liver cells for a range of Inherited Metabolic Diseases. The phenotype and pathology of the diseases has been confirmed in the cells and the resulting products are available for utilisation in drug discovery lead optimisation studies.

Future growth areas for the company include providing hepatocytes for toxicology testing, pancreatic cells for testing new diabetes therapies, and developing a new long-term storage and preservation method for hIPSC cells.

Other investors in this funding round include 24 Haymarket and Jonathan Milner, the CEO of Abcam, chairman of Axol Bioscience and backer of a large number of life science companies in the Cambridge MedTech cluster.

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Definigen raises £1.3m for stem cell advance

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