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Innovative biotech firm secures six-figure grant

Newcastle University spinout company Atelerix, which pioneered innovative cell storage and transportation technology, has won a £267,000 grant to team up with regenerative medicine firm Rexgenero.

Atelerix’s patented technology enables the storage and transportation of human cells at temperatures between 4°C and 25°C, which helps extend their viability from days to weeks.

The technology works by encapsulating cells in a natural hydrogel, which keeps them safe during shipment and storage.

The grant will be used to develop these gel stabilisation technologies further, with the goal of extending the shelf-life of Rexgenero’s lead product REX-001, a form of cell therapy developed for the treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI).

CLI is a chronic condition in which a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles, leading to chronic pain, ulcers, or gangrene in one or both legs.

Dr Mick McLean, CEO of Atelerix, said: “We’re excited to be part of this collaboration with Rexgenero and the team at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, and we deeply appreciate the support of Innovate UK to bring us together for this important project.

“The critical logistics of getting viable cell therapies to the patient are often overlooked and extending the shelf life of therapies such as REX-001 at room temperature would open up an entirely new approach for this sector.”

Joe Dupere, CEO of Rexgenero, added: “We look forward to initiating this project. Extending the shelf-life of our REX-001 autologous cell therapy is important to ensure that hospitals have the flexibility for less rigid scheduling of operating theatres, making it easier to treat patients and therefore enabling as many patients as possible to be treated with this novel, potentially curative therapy.

“Room temperature storage and transportation also widens our manufacturing options and should help to drive down cost.”

Atelerix spun out of Newcastle University in 2017 and raised £425,000 during its first seed investment round in 2018, with lead investment from the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund.

This enabled the company to develop prototypes for use with different cells and tissues, and ultimately launch their products on the market.

In May this year, the company announced it closed a second round of funding of £700,000 to help accelerate development of its innovative cell transport products.