The company, which provides contract production and development services for pharmaceutical and biotech companies, purchased conditionally immortalised cell lines, related intellectual property and equipment of UK company Xcellsyz.
Meanwhile, Cambrex's subsidiary, Cambrex Bio Science, also entered into a license agreement for Geron's proprietary telomerase and immortalisation technology. Financial details of both agreements were not disclosed.
Cambrex intends to combine the drug discovery technologies to immortalise a broad set of cell types critical to understanding metabolic disease, muscle cells for diabetes; adipose cells for obesity, endothelial cells for heart disease and hepatocytes for toxicology studies.
"These technologies allow us immediate entry into a new segment of the drug discovery market with cell strains already under evaluation with several key customers," commented Dave Eansor, president of Cambrex Bioproducts.
The market for using immortalised cell lines for therapeutic purposes continues to grow at a rate that has seen various market sectors prosper.
According to market researchers IMS healthcare, the use of human hepatocyte cell lines in drug discovery, for example, encompasses a worldwide market estimated at more than $2 billion (€1.5 billion).
Primary cells (non-immortalised) are usually used in drug discovery, best representing normal physiology. However, they are not available in the large, uniform quantities needed for high throughput applications.
Immortalised cells, which can be generated in enough volumes for high throughput screening (HTS), are homogenous and express normal markers similar to primary cells. Thus a key limitation of primary cells in drug discovery can be overcome.
Eansor added: "The licenses enable us to continue developing new cell models critical to the advancement of drug discovery, management of metabolic disease and further penetrate the rapidly growing cell-based screening market."
The market continues to see the emergence of companies specialising in providing immortalised cell lines for use in high-quality, high-throughput bioassays for lead identification and optimisation.
One such players include MultiCell Technologies a leading supplier of functional non-tumorigenic immortalised human hepatocyte lines Fa2n-4 and EA1C-35. Its immortalised human hepatocyte lines closely resemble primary human liver cells in morphology and function, making them essential for research into drug induced liver injuries.
Promocell are a German company supplying normal human primary cells for in-vitro cell culture tests. The company's cell kits, which provide normal human cells delivered together with ready-to-use growth medium, with solutions for trypsinisation.