UK cell culture specialist CN Bio Innovations has secured €7.98M (£7M) from Chinese investors to bolster its US market and expand European activities.
Investment in the bioengineering company was led by Chinese investor CITIC Securities Company and with further support from existing Hong Kong-based investor CN Innovations Holdings.
CN Bio, which creates benchtop instruments to model human biology, will also acquire nearly 400 square meters of new laboratory space as it moves its headquarters to the Cambridge Science Park from Oxfordshire.
The company specializes in organ-on-a-chip technology, in which small tissue samples are cultured in open-well plates to mimic the structure and function of human organs in a laboratory. This allows researchers to study tissue and disease processes and aids preclinical drug testing by replicating processes that occur in vivo.
“In basic terms we are experts at controlling the microenvironment of cells cultured in the laboratory,” David Hughes, CEO at CN Bio told me.
“Bringing together human cells, grown in a 3D platform, with fluid flow to mimic blood circulation allows us to recreate tissue and organ level function – known as organs-on-a-chip.”
Part of the investment will be used to drive sales of CN Bio’s PhysioMimix system, with which researchers can create human tissue models by seeding different cell types onto 3D scaffolds to form tissue structures that recreate the function of a human organ.
Using the printer-sized device, they are able to culture healthy and diseased tissue, study the interaction of different organs with one another and analyze processes such as immune cell function.
Samples can also be dosed and incubated with hormones, antibodies, drugs or reagents and tested to examine cellular responses to a particular candidate drug or chemical.
“CN-Bio’s innovative platforms are deployed in a number of preclinical research applications, with the goal of identifying at an early stage new therapies that are either not efficacious or not safe, leading to a reduction in failures in clinical trials,” stated Hughes.
He added that PhysioMimix would be followed by a second product that enables pharmaceutical companies to explore varying concentrations of drugs in patients’ blood, in a laboratory.
In November, the company launched a drug discovery service after developing a protocol to model non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a common form of chronic liver disease.
The fee-for-service program, which aims to accelerate the development and reduce the risk associated with new therapeutic drug candidates, was announced at the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Anita Chakraverty is a freelance medical journalist and science communicator. Outside work, she enjoys a good movie, long walks in the local woods, and trying to get into pretzel-like yoga poses.
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