Atelerix, a spin-out from Newcastle University, is revolutionising the way that cells are stored and transported. Its simple, cell-friendly technology offers immediate access to stem cell therapies for patients suffering with a range of diseases from cancer to cardiovascular disorders and diabetes. The harvested cells can be stored and transported at room temperature, rather than the current system which relies on cryogenic freezing.
As the product offering has evolved the team have developed a better awareness of our carbon footprint. There are benefits of using Atelerix’ technology to transport cells over the use of liquid nitrogen and the technology itself is derived from biodegradable and renewal biopolymers from seaweed. Atelerix has a diverse team with excellent employer relations and aims to benefit the wider society by increasing the accessibility new technologies and therapies. It has a governance structure that encourages accountability and transparency with an ESG-aware board and a female-led diverse management team
The technology we invented in 2012 was based on an observation from the lab that alginate encapsulation could keep cells alive. At first, our objective was just proof of concept, we worked to optimise the technology to allow the storage and distribution of cells in the cell therapy supply chain. We secured our first grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in 2013.
In 2019 we moved into our new facilities in Newcastle, and our focus shifted to product development and products for drug discovery. We launched our ‘WellReady’ system that incorporated our self-storage technology and launched ‘BeadReady’ and ‘TissueReady’ for different applications.
COVID was challenging, but it gave us the opportunity to investigate how our technology could be applied to preserve oral and nasal pharyngeal swabs to help with the pandemic. The results from the trials showed that we can preserve functional viruses, which has led to several other potential applications – a positive effect we hadn’t expected. We have now extended the preserving of live viruses to several different virus types, including lentivirus, which has led to further applications in biotech and viral gene therapy, and even in biowarfare monitoring – which is another new application that we didn’t anticipate.
We continue to work on generating new products and extending the validation of existing products for different applications. We focused on blood products, both cell and gene therapies, for research, drug discovery and clinical trial monitoring. We have developed a product to preserve leukapheresis material, for immune cell therapies for oncology treatment. We have further modified this to preserve whole blood to preserve liquid and solid biopsies. In addition, we have further developed further ‘TissueReady’ for the preservation of tissues for cancer biopsies, for drug discovery and research to biobanking.
We have also moved into preserving germ plasm (semen and early embryos) in a project for cattle breeding, which involves collecting and delivering infield samples in very large expanses of land for shipment throughout Canada.
We have brought in automation in our manufacturing process to streamline and expand our manufacturing capabilities for the provision of materials for research use.
Steve Swioklo, CSO & Co-Founder, Atelerix Ltd
Started ICURe programme
£220k Innovate UK grant received
First sales in USA, Europe and India
Atelerix technology accepted into a clinical application
£70k grant from UK Innovation and Science Seed fund (UKI2S)
CytoStor™ cell preservation product launched
LeukoStor™ for the preservation of apheresis material launched
What companies had to say about the Innovate UK ICURe programme?
“In the early years, we were very much focused on R&D, on cell storage, but we weren’t sure how to commercialise it. The ICURe programme was the perfect vehicle to help us answer these questions. It allowed us to identify and map the target markets, as well as start to consider more of the product development side. We started to think how this technology is going to be used by others and how it would be implemented. Through ICURe we received direct feedback and adjusted our attention to the cell storage kit accordingly. ICURe helped us to develop a ‘kit concept’.”
CSO & Co-Founder, Atelerix Ltd
Looking ahead the plan is to work on Atelerix’ quality management system to an appropriate standard to develop its own general manufacturing Practice (GMP) and GMP compliant products for regulated use.
The company now has an extensive product range. Long term the aim is for its products to be the gold standard for any non-cryo stabilisation of cell products in all markets. Atelerix technology will radically improve the current system particularly in the cell therapy field, and in turn improve the success rates of cell therapies for those patients who really need them.