Company will use funds to accelerate market expansion and broaden its product line for advanced drug discovery research
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 12 December 2016 – QGel, a biomaterials company with advanced solutions for pharmaceutical drug discovery, announced today the closing of a $12 million financing in new capital. This latest round, adding to $8.5 million from previous financing rounds, was led by new private investors, and includes continued participation from existing investors. The financing will be used to accelerate QGel’s global expansion to service clients internationally, and broaden the company existing line of products.
Thanks to its proprietary technology platform, QGel develops and commercializes synthetic gels for 3D in vitro growth of miniature human organs (“organoids”) and tumors (“tumoroids”) that mimic original organs and tumors in certain structure and functions, in a highly scalable way. QGel technology gives scientists the ability to test new drugs on patient tissues providing pharmaceutical companies with a novel toolset to uncover the next generation of drugs. QGel currently commercializes 3D in vitro disease models for many different cancer types including brain, breast, colon, kidney, lung, ovarian, pancreas, placenta, prostate and skin cancers.
In a recent study co-authored by QGel co-founder Prof. Matthias Lütolf, and conducted in his lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, QGel technology enabled scientists to investigate and identify the factors that influence the stem cells of the gut to form intestinal organoids and colon tumoroids. The study was published in November 2016 in Nature, Designer matrices for epithelial stem cell and organoid culture.
Speaking about the fundraising announced today, Colin Sanctuary, co-founder and CEO of QGel declared, “QGel has created a disruptive technology platform that allows scientists to grow human cells and tissues in a lab or "in vitro" so that the cell growth mimics behavior that is normally only observed inside the human body. Since the foundation of QGel in 2009, we have developed manufacturing capabilities that ensure the supply of industry-grade hydrogels that meet the strict requirements of drug discovery. Backed by solid science, QGel's scalable solutions will help pharmaceutical and biotech companies to exploit patient-derived tissue for organoids to test drugs and drug combinations, using methods that are compatible with automated workflows. This fundraising will help us continue our partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, and help guide their development of therapies for millions living with and affected by cancer worldwide.”
Founded in 2009 in Lausanne, Switzerland, QGel develops and commercializes extracellular matrices (ECMs) that promote the 3D growth of miniature human organs and tumors in vitro providing pharmaceutical companies and research centers with a scalable and reproducible toolset to test new drugs on patient-derived tissue. QGel’s synthetic ECMs combine unique biological, biophysical and biochemical components inspired by the native environment of cells in vivo in order to promote growth of human tissue in the lab. Follow QGel on www.qgelbio.com, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Report of clinically relevant 3D culture of patient-derived cells for intestinal and colorectal organoids in fully defined hydrogel matrices based on QGel technology
LAUSANNE, Switzerland - 17 November 2016 – Nature, the leading weekly international scientific journal, yesterday reported the first intestinal and colorectal cancer organoid culture in fully defined extra cellular matrices (ECM). In an article entitled “Designer matrices for intestinal stem cells and organoid culture”, QGel's proprietary technology was used to modulate synthetic hydrogel networks to support organoid formation.
Until now, industrial organoid applications have been severely hampered due to the exclusive dependence of organoid technology on animal-derived hydrogels, including Matrigel and collagen. With QGel's designer matrices, fully defined organoid hydrogels can be manufactured on a scale suitable for industrial applications, that will finally open the gateway to harnessing the full potential of organoids in research and therapy in the near future.
Co-authored, among other leading scientists, by organoid specialist Hans Clevers from the Hubrecht Institute and University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, and QGel co-founder and Board Member Matthias Lütolf from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, the article highlights how QGel technology enables the use of organoids as clinically relevant models for therapy development, including for patient-specific epithelial disease, such as cancer. This discovery overcomes multiple limitations of current organoid cultures and greatly expands their applicability in basic and clinical research when combined with QGel's industrial ability to scale.
Using intestinal stem cells and patient colorectal cancer cells, scientists publishing in Nature successfully defined key extracellular matrix (ECM) parameters that govern organoid formation. They have shown that separate stages of the process require different mechanical environments and components of the ECM, such as derivatives of fibronectin and laminin. By exploiting QGel's proprietary technology to modulate synthetic hydrogel networks scientists were able to define formulations for successful and reproducible organoid formation.
QGel CEO and co-founder Colin Sanctuary commented “Organoid potential has not yet been exploited largely because of the dependence of organoids on non-scalable, animal-derived matrices. The ground-breaking results presented in Nature highlight the potential of fully defined matrices. Over the last 6 years, QGel has developed manufacturing capabilities to ensure industrial supply of high quality hydrogels, which are compatible with standard automated workflows. Having solved this bottleneck of scalability, QGel will empower pharmaceutical and biotech companies to exploit organoids to transform how we study diseases such as cancer and guide the development of new therapies for the millions living with and affected by cancer worldwide. ”
At the Innovation Park of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), biomedical engineer and entrepreneur Colin Sanctuary places several small vials onto a table, each labelled with an organ of the human body: pancreas, skin, lung.
“Organoid technology in general isn't new – it's been around since the 1980s,” he tells swissinfo.ch. “But our technology is unique because it is the only synthetic gel system that allows the growth of human cells in an in vitro environment.”
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