New product could revolutionise personalised treatments for diseases

Thursday 20 January 2022

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Personalised treatments for conditions like cancer and motor neurone disease could become much more accessible thanks to advances in cell and gene therapy by university scientists. Researchers at Coventry University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, in partnership with Bedford-based biotech supplier Life Sciences Group (LSG), have developed a new product, CellShip, to store and transport cells at normal temperatures.

Currently, cells must be frozen and have toxic protective chemicals – known as cryoprotectants – added to preserve them.

Initial tests of CellShip showed that a variety of cells could be transported and extracted from its storage medium without the need for freezing, meaning the process is much faster and cost-effective. If adopted, CellShip could make personalised treatments involving cells and genes for diseases like cancer, motor neurone disease, cystic fibrosis, and many others much more accessible.

This innovation in cell and gene therapy was developed during a three-year, £231,000 Innovate UK-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Coventry University and LSG.

KTPs allow businesses like Life Sciences Group to link up with academic institutions like Coventry University and benefit from their expertise and resources.

Personalised medicine is a new approach to healthcare which will revolutionise treatments for conditions much as cancer, motor neurone disease, cystic fibrosis, and many more over the next 15 to 20 years.

If you’re going to have a medicine that is not just available to wealthier countries you need a way of transporting cells in an affordable and controllable manner.

CellShip offers the ability to transport cells at ambient temperatures which allows cells to be accurately controlled to reduce the potentially harmful loss of cells and removes the requirement for the addition of toxic cryoprotectants.

This novel and disruptive product has been developed in association with Coventry University through a successful KTP and has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of personalised medicine globally.

CellShip would not exist without Coventry University’s technical and scientific expertise and support, and access to their lab space and equipment.

We are keen to maintain this relationship as we continue the process of moving this new product to market through further research and clinical trials.

Jenny Murray, Managing Director of LSG

The three-year collaboration between Coventry University and LSG was led by Dr Emma Buick at LSG, and overseen by Professor Sebastien Farnaud, Professor in Bio-Innovation and Enterprise, and Professor Derek Renshaw, Professor of Endocrine Physiology, both from Coventry University's Research Centre for Sport, Exercise & Life Sciences.

The work achieved through this partnership is a breakthrough not only for the scientific community but indirectly for our society a whole.

These novel media, which reduce the need for dry ice, deliver more suitable cells and tissues for all applications, provide better science at lower cost and a more sustainable communication and service between scientists, clinicians and ultimately patients.

Sebastien Farnaud, Professor in Bio-Innovation and Enterprise

Find out more about the Life Science Group and the Centre for Sports, Exercise and Life Sciences.