A University of Warwick spin-out company has been awarded £300,000 from InnovateUK to build on research in the development of new ways to protect precious biological materials during the freezing process, giving up to 4 times increase in the number of recovered cells. Transforming how cells and cell-based therapies are stored and transported will help to improve oncology, diagnostic, medicines discovery and the current challenges of distributing COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr Thomas Congdon, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of CryoLogyx said he was inspired to commercialise his research by taking part in one of the Deep Tech Innovation Centre programs for early career researchers delivered as part of Warwick’s new Warwick Innovation District. The team then went on to complete an intensive market research and customer discovery programme exercise under the Midlands ICURe programme, which highlighted a number of high value unmet needs which the technology is ideally positioned to address.
In order to store and transport cells for research, or as advanced medicines, it is essential to freeze them as they are not stable at room temperature for long periods. The traditional solution to this was to add organic solvent ‘antifreezes’, similar to what you might use in your car. Professor Gibson’s lab has learned from how organisms survive in the Earths coldest environments, and developed new macromolecular cryoprotectants which allow more cells to survive the freezing process and to replace the organic solvents.
The polymer cryoprotectants are easy to use, can give up to four times increase in the number of recovered cells, and have been shown to work in a range of cell types.
CryoLogyx will use this platform technology to transform emerging, advanced, cell based therapies, simplify the medicines development process, and aid supply chains.
Professor Matthew Gibson, Professor at the University of Warwick, and Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of CryoLogyx, said: “This is a really exciting time to enter the cryopreservation market. New cell-based therapies are transforming oncology and recent news around the challenges of distributing COVID-19 vaccines highlights how protecting biologics at low temperature is essential in modern medicine. For the past decade we have studied how we can use polymers as innovative cryoprotectants and CryoLogyx will take these forward to develop new products.”
Dr Thomas Congdon added: “We are delighted to have been awarded Innovate UK funding to commercialize our research and begin delivering real value and innovation to the cell research and therapy sector. Effective commercial cryopreservation solutions are imperative for the discovery and deployment of new medicines. We are excited about growing CryoLogyx and engaging with the users of our technology.”
Dr James Lapworth, Warwick Innovations, who is working with Professor Gibson to commercialise the technology, said: “This award from Innovate UK recognises the potential for Warwick’s new cryopreservation technology to have a significant impact on the medicines discovery and cell therapy industries, both of which have been identified by the UK government as priority areas for economic growth.”