EU to fund stem cell assay development collaboration

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cellular differentiation, Neuron, Cell culture

Stem Cell Sciences (SCS) has received a €2.4m boost from the
European Union (EU) for its new drug screening development
programme using neutral stem cells.

The NEUROscreen project will focus on developing new assays using SCS' technology to grow neural cells that can be used to discover new candidate medicines for the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer's disease stroke and epilepsy. Funded by the EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technical Development (FP6), the project will bring together European researchers from academic institutes and biotech companies to develop the assays. The company will receive €0.42m of the total €2.4m that is earmarked for the three year project with the remainder going to its collaborators. "The €420,000 that SCS will receive as leader of this project demonstrates that our technology and capabilities are distinctive in the industry,"​ said Peter Mountford, CEO of SCS. "We look forward to increasing the range of drug discovery applications and adding to our list of four large industry licensees of the technology. NEUROscreen also provides SCS with the exciting prospect of discovering proprietary drug leads." ​ According to the UK-based company, its Neural Stem (NS) cell line is the first tissue-specific cell line that can grow stably in the laboratory as a pure population of stem cells without ongoing differentiation that can be grown as a monolayer in serum-free culture media. The use of the company's animal-free cell culture media means that batch-to-batch variability is minimised, ensuring reproducible cell viability. The cells can also be differentiated into both neurons and glia for use either as investigational cell therapies or in discovery assays. "This is a tremendous opportunity to validate our human NS cell and NS cell-derived cell types for drug discovery, all within a single, well defined programme of work,"​ said Dr Lilian Hook, SCS' European research programme manager. "We expect that NEUROscreen will significantly add to the value of our NS cell platform and broaden its utility in neural drug discovery and development."

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