The research models and services provider announced it has reached an exclusive agreement with upcyte for the commercial worldwide distribution of the latter company’s cell products and media.
Upcyte is a developer of human primary cell products based in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, and has designed cell proliferation technologies to support the R&D of cell-based therapeutic products.
According to the company, its platform allows controlled proliferation beyond the normal lifespan of differentiated primary cells, “without loss of their phenotypic or differentiation properties and without inducing immortalization.”
A spokesperson for BioIVT told us that the company is in the process of receiving orders for upcyte cells and media and shipping these products to customers.
Chris Black, SVP, ADME-Tox of BioIVT, stated that upcyte’s cells will ‘nicely’ complement the company’s portfolio of primary hepatocytes and other liver products, to support its clients’ in-vitro research models.
Astrid Nörenberg, upcyte managing director, commented that the partnership aims to answer the ‘evolving needs’ of researchers, by increasing the quantity and range of hepatic cells available.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
This agreement with upcyte marks another step towards the expansion of BioIVT’s operations, after the company completed a series of acquisitions during the past year, including that of PPA Research Group, a hematologic products provider, and Keystone Biologicals, a supplier of plasma, sera, and controls.
Applications of immortalized hepatic cells
The agreement is based on upcyte’s cells derived from hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs), which can be used for predictive toxicology evaluations and screening studies.
According to BioIVT, upcyte’s hepatic cells offer several advantages since they are easier to culture compared to other cells commonly used for this application and allow researchers to work with numerous hepatic cell lots from different donors.
When asked to further explain the demand on immortalized hepatic cells that drove this partnership, Black told us that immortalization of primary cells, enabled by upcyte’s platform, can have many applications isolated cells from rare tissues, unique disease-state tissue, hard to isolate and culture primary cells, and finally the liver for ADME applications.
“While primary hepatocytes will remain the ‘gold standard’ for most in-vitro models and research applications because of their physiologically-relevant metabolism and transporter profiles, we see immortalized upcyte hepatocytes as a complementary offering,” Black told us.
According to BioIVT’s executive, immortalized cells are effective for certain in-vitro screening and predictive toxicology studies which require virtually unlimited amounts.
Moreover, aside from the large supply benefit associated with the upcyte hepatocytes, Black stated that another key advantage is that different donors can be immortalized to screen against a variety of donor phenotypes.
“We are also focused on another hepatic cell type, liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs),” he said, adding that these cells play important roles in liver function and liver disease.
However, these cells have not typically been evaluated in in-vitro studies because they are difficult to isolate and culture using traditional methodologies, Black explained, and concluded:
“Using the upcyte technology, LSEC lots can be expanded and the cells can be cultured – thus providing another useful in-vitro tool to accompany BioIVT’s current hepatotoxicity portfolio.”