This technology has the potential to revolutionise the way that preclinical testing laboratories use live liver cells and will enable researchers to plan their work more effectively.
The Abcellute solution allows researchers to work with a liver cell sample for up to five days, without freezing. Currently, the experiments either need to be carried out the moment a liver is donated to the laboratory, or researchers have to use liver cells that have been cryogenically frozen, which can have a dramatic effect on how they respond during testing.
CEO of Abcellute, Alex Watson told DrugResearcher.com: "If a donated liver arrives on Friday night the researchers will currently have to work around the clock to make the most of a very precious resource or risk delaying the trial while they wait for more test material."
"You can imagine how important being able to store the material for five days will be in these situations and how many more experiments you could carry out - you even have the possibility of shipping cells to different countries and running experiments on the same batch of cells simultaneously around the world!"
Hepatocytes are routinely used in drug discovery laboratories to provide preliminary information on the metabolism and pharmacokinetics of compounds and their potential to cause liver toxicity.
The solution surrounds the cells in a solid matrix that protects them from degradation and shock and actually improves the quality of the liver cells after they have been in the resting state for 24 hours, claims Abcellute.
Prior to use, the matrix is simply liquefied by warming to 37°C and is then washed away leaving the cells free to be placed in the desired media, retaining their 'intact whole organ' characteristics
"The contract signed today is a significant milestone in Abcellute's strategy to extend the adoption of its cell preservation technology platform on a global basis. We are delighted that the pharmaceutical industry in Japan, through our relationship with GeneFrontier, will now have immediate and direct access to the technology," stated Watson.
The agreement marks a sharp increase in the global presence of Abcellute, which was spun out of the University of Cardiff in 2001. The company is currently in discussions to license the technology worldwide and is establishing various collaborations, most notably with the UK's Department of Trade and Industry, to explore the efficacy of the technique across a wider spectrum of the market, including the preservation of stem cells.
In a statement, Makoto Ogasawara, president and chief executive of GeneFrontier, said: "We are convinced that today's announcement will increase the awareness of Abcellute's innovative cell preservation technology, which has the potential to add efficacy to the pre-clinical evaluation process in Japan, resulting in shortening the lengthy drug-discovery processes."