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AYR, United Kingdom

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.78M | Year: 2015

The cell nucleus is organized and compartmentalized into a highly ordered structure that contains DNA, RNA, chromosomal and histone proteins which make up a structure called chromatin. The dynamics associated with these various components are responsible for regulating physiological processes and the overall stability of the genome. The destabilization of such regulatory mechanisms that act on the chromatin structure are implicated in pathologies such as cancer. Higher order organization of chromatin results in chromosomes which occupy discrete territories within the cell nucleus. Most nuclear processes occur or at least being initiated onto the chromosomes which makes them the main organizing factors in the nucleus. Several proteins that are involved in the replication of DNA, gene transcription and the processing of RNA are found enriched in discrete focal structures. An emerging question is how these structures assemble and are maintained in the absence of membranes and moreover what are the kinetics of stable binding and/or rapid exchange of their components. The dynamic assembly and modification of chromatin during developmental processes as well as the deregulation of such chromatin dynamics during the onset of disease lacks mechanistic insights at present. To address these questions we have put forward a multidisciplinary approach which involves molecular, cellular and systems level approaches by assembling a group of scientists from academia and industry with cross disciplinary expertise and capabilities.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN | Award Amount: 1.07M | Year: 2013

HUMUNITY is a PhD school which shall train young scientists in novel approaches to the study of human mucosal immunity by the use of advanced engineered human cell culture models. The scientific goal is to develop integrated cell-biological models in which cultured human primary cells mimic the architecture and the interactions of the original tissue, by uniting powerful classical cell culture skills, innovative material science and advanced high-content detection systems. Specifically, students will study the innate inflammatory response to agents presented at mucosal surfaces of lung and gut, in both healthy and pathological conditions, by implementing novel in vitro systems that robustly reproduce the reactivity of human tissues in vivo. These models will also have multiple industrially-exploitable applications, from preclinical testing of candidate therapeutics in personalised medicine approaches to screening of drugs and biosafety assessment, thereby reducing significantly the need of animal experimentation. Four trainees will experience an intersectoral training programme encompassing a 18-month internship in a UK SME expert in isolation and culture of human primary cells (AvantiCell Science), and 18 months in academic institutions (the Italian research organisation CNR, with secondments to the Universities of Pisa and Salzburg). Trainees enrolled in the PhD programme in Clinical Physiopathology and Pharmacology at the University of Pisa will engage in training-by-research, and will participate in a series of scientific and technical training courses provided by each institution, in addition to joint scientific meetings and transferable skills courses organised by the associated management partner ALTA. Eventually, fellows will gain experience in technology transfer when moving their prototypical systems to commercially exploitable assest relevant to different industry sectors, from pharmaceuticals through food and healthcare to environmental safety.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: SME-1 | Phase: NMP-25-2014-1 | Award Amount: 71.43K | Year: 2014

The Project will develop and commercialise the additive printing of cell-based analysis systems. The objective is to deliver consistent, scalable manufacturing of cell-based models used by multiple industry sectors to evaluate materials ranging from new drugs to healthcare products and functional foods. The target market is global and growing (CAGR 12%; estimated $4.2Bn in 2016). Additive printing will have positive disruptive impact, automating assay assembly and producing complex models needed by industry to improve the predictive value of cell-based analysis. Operational efficiencies and competitive pricing of printed cell products and services will win market share by making high-end analysis available to non-specialist users, whilst allowing wider integration of complex models into high-volume screening. The market advantage will be cost-effective testing and greater confidence in commercial decisions with strategic and financial impact. The Phase 1 business plan will be built on market data, IP/technology audit and financial planning arising from 8 years successful ACS cell-based business. Phase 1 shall also prototype assays printed with iPSC-derived hepatocytes aimed at high-value hepatotoxicity testing; prototypes will be moved to TRL7, and in Phase 2 to market-ready TRL9 with client-reactive design aided by beta testing with opinion leaders. Technical innovation will use ACS core skills in human cell culture and build on commercial partnership with the UK National Centre for Additive Printing. Phase 2 will extend the technology platform to other cell models, expanding product range and commercial value. Post-project, these will be marketed and sold by expanding existing operations: initial hepatotoxicity sales alone are forecast at 0.6M one year post-launch (0.15% of global market). Market/sales extension to remote markets e.g. SE Asia will use JV companies or third-party distributors e.g. Japan. The Project requires 2.5 years and a budget of 2-2.5M.

Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Feasibility Study | Award Amount: 24.95K | Year: 2014

The project shall test the feasibility of delivering complex cell culture models as frozen products, assembled in one central facility. These complex cell models are required by industry to answer important questions about candidate drugs during preclinical testing, and also have use in testing of other materials with potential health benefit, such as functional foods or traditional medicines. The complex models shall contain human cells, to enhance their analytical value. They shall be assembled into architectures resembling their tissues of origin: the project example shall be lung cells placed so as to reproduce structures lining the tissue’s airways. The freezing process shall be applied to cells pre-assembled in these structures and not, as conventionally, to cells frozen in bulk. Study success shall make the cell models available to a new commercial audience, and allow discovers to add value to candidate therapeutics before licensing-on to pharmaceutical players.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: SME-2 | Phase: NMP-25-2015 | Award Amount: 2.99M | Year: 2015

The Project shall develop a unique manufacturing solution for the automated production of complex cell models widely used by industry to test biological activity and biosafety. No means of scalable manufacture presently exists. The technical solution is to assemble cell models by additive manufacturing; to control the resident cells locations within these 3D models; to supply the models to customers as pre-assembled, frozen products. The result shall be an analytical tool which, unlike current practice, does not compromise analytical output for convenience, but combines high predictive value and low cost with exceptional user-friendliness. The solution is unique, proprietary and highly positive-disruptive in its industrial sector. Its achievement will be measurable in this Project as an exemplifying, printed hepatotoxicity assay with wide application in drug discovery and biosafety testing. An SME Instrument Phase 1 Project advanced the core printing technology delivering this solution to TRL7, and developed a business plan for its exploitation. That business plan confirmed the wide, cross-industry application of cell-based analysis, from preclinical drug discovery through natural products/food to medical devices and nanosafety, and mapped the advantages of additively-manufactured products onto demonstrable industry trends and customer needs. The business plan and its underpinning technology are founded in the applicants long-term strategic goals, evidenced by profitable business in the target market from proprietary cell-based services, and by ancillary technology developments, also to TRL7 and supported by UK national funding, which create unique competitive advantage. The outcome of this Phase 2 Project will be a mature cell-based manufacturing technology, its demonstrable application in a commercial environment, and the assembly of a corporate infrastructure ready to take the Projects manufacturing solution into a well-scoped and lucrative marketplace.

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