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Tailored drug discovery services and cell therapy partnerships: Our 2020 Highlights

15 December, 2020

At Ncardia, we believe that human stem cell technology helps to get therapies to patients faster. Over the past 10 years, we have built the expertise and infrastructure required to differentiate, manufacture and characterize iPSC-derived cell models for drug discovery and cell therapy. And we keep on developing, providing tailored discovery services and partnering with cell therapy developers to establish the next generation of advanced therapeutics. As the end of the year approaches, we look back at a year full of developments and innovations. Here are some of our 2020 highlights:

Ncardia iPSC Platform

Human pluripotent stem cells continue to drive rapid advances in Drug Discovery and Cell Therapy. In 2020, we employed our iPSC platform in many new client projects to build and implement cell models and assays at scale for both Drug Discovery and Cell & Gene Therapy projects. Each project is led by our internal experts in cardiovascular, neuroscience and immunology, as well as process development and manufacturing scientists. The platform is composed of multiple technologies and services, so we can accommodate our customer’s projects at any stage of Drug Discovery or Cell Therapy development.

Bluerock Therapeutics collaboration

In January, we announced an agreement with BlueRock Therapeutics covering process development technologies for the manufacture of hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. BlueRock’s advanced cellular therapy has the potential to transform the lives of patients, and requires cell therapy manufacturing at unprecedented scale. Our team has developed key technologies related to this scale-up challenge.

Optimization of the Ncyte CNS Neuron Kit

Our Ncyte CNS Neuron Kit is a co-culture model of neurons and astrocytes, used in drug discovery for neurotoxicity assays and disease modeling. In March, we optimized the CNS Neuron Kit. The improved conditions enable earlier detection of spontaneous electrical activity. Furthermore, the high neural activity is sustained for a longer period, providing a longer window for performing your neuronal assays.

Large-scale manufacturing

Although hiPSC technology enables access to many human cell types, issues around efficiency in differentiation, scalability in manufacturing, quality and reproducibility are often encountered. Last June, we proudly presented the addition of largescale bioreactor manufacturing to our iPSC platform to solve these issues. The platform allows us to optimize and validate processes at a smaller scale and then scale-up to the necessary billion-scale, resulting in cells with comparable characteristics from batch to batch. With this addition, we are now able to develop manufacturing methods for various cell models for a broad output range, tailored to our customers’ project needs.

Microglia/astrocyte/cortical neuron coculture

During the FENS conference in July, we presented the development of our hiPSC-derived cortical neurons, microglia and astrocytes. Co-cultured, they present a translatable and versatile system, incorporating both neuronal and support glial cells that can be generated from the same donor. Through High Content Imaging techniques, coupled with long-term functional Ncardia assays, we are now able to provide insight into neurobiology and neuropathology by evaluating parameters as cell health, morphology and function.

Angiogenesis assay

In July, we proudly announced the development of a new 3D angiogenesis assay in collaboration with Mimetas and Leiden University. Our hiPSC-derived endothelial cells proved to be an effective alternative to primary cells. Combined with a microfluidic 3D cell culture platform, the cells constitute a physiologically relevant, robust, and scalable assay that is ready for drug screening.

New colleagues

As stem cell technology is growing for both Drug Discovery and Cell Therapy, so is Ncardia. We have developed new hiPSC-derived cell types, assays and services, and we have extended our team to manage all that. Throughout the year, we have welcomed 12 new colleagues to the Ncardia team! 6 new scientists are ready to work on your Drug Discovery or Cell Therapy projects. Contact us to see how we can help you in 2021: https://www.ncardia.com/contact/