Founded in 2015, CellSpring has developed a high throughput 3D cell culture system, the 3D Bloom Biopolymer Platform, which enables more informed “stop/go” decisions for preclinical candidates. The startup has partnered with a United Kingdom based biotechnology company, Platicell, that uses combinatorial technologies for stem cell research and optimization of cell and gene therapy manufacturing.
CellSpring and Plasticell are developing tissue models using 3D Bloom Biopolymer seeded with hMSCs that are subsequently differentiated to bone, cartilage and brown/white fat tissue using CombiCult-derived differentiation media. 3D cultures of cells resemble natural tissues more closely compared to conventional 2D cultures grown on flat dishes. In particular, 3D tissues have more accurate biological responses to drug treatment and are used in the pharmaceutical industry to identify promising lead compounds in all stages of drug discovery.
Plasticell has used its proprietary Combinatorial Cell Culture (CombiCult) platform to develop fully defined, highly effective media formulations to differentiate stem cells, for applications in drug discovery research and cell therapy. In particular, Plasticell has used the platform to develop media for rapid, reliable differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) to high quality osteocytes, chondrocytes and adipocytes (both white and brown), with a view to creating tissue models for drug screening and cell therapies.
While Plasticell’s osteogenic media formulation has been licenced to MilliporeSigma for research use only (marketed as OsteoMAX-XF), Plasticell has retained rights to use the formulation and derivatives to develop therapeutic products, such as a cell-based therapy for repair of bone fractures. The global bone grafts and substitutes market is estimated to be $2.5bn per year and growing rapidly.
“Testing Plasticell’s formulations in our system it became clear that impressive 3D bone structures were being formed,’ said Chris Millan, co-founder and CTO of CellSpring. “After only a few days in culture we saw upregulation of osteogenic markers and morphological changes. The bone structures became white and opaque, whereas normally microtissues remain quite transparent to the naked eye, and after staining with Alizarin red we were barely able to transmit light through them in order to image the cells – this is something we have never seen before using our system.”