In our latest film to showcase the innovations made possible by the Accelerate programme, we explore a collaboration between Welsh innovators, Copner Biotech, and the Accelerate Healthcare Technology Centre (HTC) that could revolutionise cell culture via computer modelled 3D scaffolding designs.
Copner Biotech has created a unique approach to developing 3D scaffolds for cell culture, the process of growing cells outside the body. The start-up utilises computer modelling to ensure optimum flow and oxygenation throughout the entire scaffold structure. It is hoped that validation and commercialisation of this pioneering Welsh technology in the medical market will lead to the development of better drugs and treatments for patients across the globe.
While cell culture can be conducted with mammalian cells or plant cells, Copner Biotech predominantly work with human cells.
Typically, cell culture is conducted in a 2D environment, but this can impose limitations. Conversely, the ability to make use of 3D cell culture offers many advantages, as it encourages cells to take on a more physiologically relevant morphology when compared to 2D cell culture. Cells grown utilising 3D scaffolds also demonstrate improved drug responses and all-around improvements to research when using cells in the lab.
As a result, this novel 3D cell culture platform offers enormous potential for research into multiple cell types, including: cancer cells, cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts and liver cells. Experts believe that the applications for this product are genuinely limitless, and the reality is that researchers are routinely discovering new opportunities provided by these advanced scaffold designs.
While Copner Biotech can produce 3D scaffolds for cell culture, the start-up does not have direct access the facilities required to test their designs in a lab-based setting to see if the cells will grow on them in an appropriate manner.
Accelerate is led by Life Sciences Hub Wales, in partnership with Cardiff University, Swansea University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Rather than providing funding or grants, this programme offers SME's and Enterprises in Wales the opportunity to tap into academic expertise, and the latest facilities needed by innovators and entrepreneurs to realise their ideas.
The support of the Accelerate programme has facilitated collaboration between Copner Biotech and the HTC that enables the essential investigation and validation testing that can lead to commercialisation.
Jordan Copner, Founder and CEO of Copner Biotech:
“The support from the Accelerate programme has been invaluable, especially to a company that was started doing a global pandemic.
Obviously, funds were incredibly limited, and to have a partner with such expertise in a biological setting, namely cell culture has been incredible to have on board.”
The Accelerate programme has helped Copner Biotech to validate its scaffolds in a biological setting. The team at the HTC, based at Swansea University, have conducted multiple cell experiments, including scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and cellular assays. The imagery provided thanks to the Centre’s advanced SEM equipment is providing Copner’s team with the ability to accurately examine the developments inside the cells grown using their 3D scaffolds.
Dr Aled Bryant, Accelerate Healthcare Technology Centre:
“The innovative element of this collaboration is while there are different 3D models to grow cells on the market, the dedicated software Copner Biotech used to produce these scaffolds enables nutrient oxygen gradients to maximize cell growth.
By developing better models for lab-based testing this allows us to develop better drugs and better models to understand different disease conditions, ultimately providing better treatments for patients.”
With the HTC’s experts sharing their evaluation findings, Copner Biotech can explore how the 3D scaffold design can be adjusted and further developed to improve the performance of scaffold designs. As a result, the developers now have access to a plethora of data to enable them to move forward for commercialisation.
The Accelerate programme has now been extended to December 2022. If you would like to find out more about how the programme might be able to support your bright idea or innovation, contact us today via firstname.lastname@example.org.