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Oxford StemTech is part of an exciting collaboration to deliver rare disease precision medicine

September 20th 2023

Heyford Park Innovation Centre customers, Oxford StemTech are an innovation driven biotechnology company powering precision medicine.

They are partners in a large consortium of universities, research institutes, charities, and organisations in a £1.1Million project which contributes to the UK Rare Disease Research Platform.  This node of the platform will be investigating the mTOR pathway (an intra-cellular signalling pathway) and aim to establish whether a common drug could be used to treat 14 known mTOR pathway diseases. Approximately 10,000 individuals in the UK suffer from these rare diseases and the outputs of this project could be an important step in developing life-changing treatments.

 

StemTech will work with the MRC Node investigators to establish induced pluripotent stem cells resources from tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) patients. TSC arises from inherited genetic mutations and can cause autism, learning difficulties and epilepsy. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are a type of cell which can be turned into any other cell type, tissue or organ. In this project, StemTech will produce cerebral organoids – or mini-brains – from the patients’ iPSC lines. They will investigate whether the mini-brain responses to seizure medications match the clinical response to the same medications. This will be an important milestone for the field where the mini-brains can model the disease and treatment responses of patients with TSC.

 

The three StemTech co-founders, Dr Galbha Duggal, Dr Satyan Chintawar and Professor Zameel Cader started a biotech journey in the middle of the COVID pandemic.  They were part of Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience at University of Oxford and shared a common vision to improve drug discovery for neurological disorders. Galbha wanted to progress her core research in stem cell reprogramming (the process for making iPSC) for clinical applications. However, reprogramming was laborious andcostly, which made her think there could be a better way. Satyan as a pharmacist and neuroscientist was always passionate for using stem cell technologies to enable precision medicine. Zam is Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology at University of Oxford and is a Consultant Neurologist specialising in migraine.  Zam runs the Oxford Headache Centre and is also the Academic Lead in IM2PACT, an international consortium of leading academic groups, biotech and big Pharma to make better human stem cell models of the blood-brain-barrier, enabling new ways to get therapies into the brain. Zam is an expert in precision medicine.

The co-founders’ joint vision of making stem cell reprogramming simpler, quicker and cost-effective led to the creation of ReproPlex™, a state-of-the art platform which has transformed the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) landscape, helping to accelerate reprogramming and make it scalable and cost effective.

 

A bit about working at Heyford Park Innovation Centre

Although Oxford StemTech was created during the pandemic, they needed to do functional research in a lab.  Heyford Park Innovation Centre was able to offer quick and easy access to a shared lab facility, where equipment, consumables and support was on tap.  However, the company quickly moved from the shared lab to an independent lab of their own.  This was an affordable option for the team and enabled them to come in and start straight away.  They derive benefit from the business support available and participate in the Leaders’ Peer Group, where they can share challenges and bounce ideas off like-minded entrepreneurs.

A bit about Oxford StemTech

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) models can provide unprecedented insights into human disease mechanisms and open the door for novel target discovery, phenotypic screens, or in vitro clinical trials to get medicines that work into the clinic.  We produce iPSCs in a fast, high-quality, and cost-effective manner using our innovative reprogramming platform – ReproPlex™. Our unique method drastically reduces the cost of reprogramming without compromising the quality. This allows us to offer large-scale parallel reprogramming to iPSCs from 10-100s donors simultaneously.

The production of stem cells from large numbers of patients better captures the biological diversity of patient populations. Our technologies can thereby enable precision medicine development and population-level cellular studies.

We are excited to support iPSC generation requirements big or small – whether for academic research or to meet the needs of pharma drug discovery. We also provide a variety of valued drug discovery services including target discovery and validation and functional assays on human cellular models. Our services offer considerable cost savings and provide high quality resources and data.

See more about Oxford StemTech

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