Qkine and StemCultures collaborate to provide new solutions for precision stem cell culture

Stem cell specialists StemCultures and growth factor manufacturer Qkine will develop new controlled-release growth factors that allow fine control of stem cell expansion and differentiation efficiency.

[Cambridge, UK and Albany NY, USA]: Specialist bioactive protein manufacturer Qkine today announced a new partnership with StemCultures, a life sciences company dedicated to developing innovative reagents that enhance the quality and efficiency of cell growth and differentiation in culture. This collaboration merges Qkine’s expertise in complex protein manufacturing and engineering with StemCultures’ proprietary controlled-release technologies to develop new reagents for precision stem cell expansion and differentiation.

Qkine-StemCultures iPSC culture using Qkine FGF-2 145aa stained with pluripotency markers SOX2

StemCultures controlled-release beads with Qkine FGF-2 145aa (10ng/ml) were used in iPSC culture using a weekend-free media change protocol. Plates were coated with Vitronectin. After 3 days, cells were stained for the pluripotency marker Sox2 and DNA stain Hoechst 33258. Images were taken on an EVOS M5000 imaging system (20x magnification). Images from left hand side Brightfield | Hoechst 33258 | SOX2 | SOX2 and Hoechst 33258.

“ Stem cell culture is advancing research into human cells in 2D and 3D organoids and creating cell products for regenerative medicine, yet reproducibility from one culture to the next can be a challenge. Specific growth factors are critical for efficient stem cell growth and differentiation, and we need to make sure that we are sourcing authentic, well-QCd proteins and carefully controlling their concentrations in media. Stemcultures is excited to partner with QKine who make exceptionally well-characterized, pure and consistent proteins. Together we are generating revolutionary controlled release growth factors to maximize the quality and reproducibility of stem cell cultures and to benefit clinical translation.” says Dr Sally Temple, Founder of StemCultures, former President of ISSCR and Founder of the Neural Stem Cell Institute.

We are excited to announce the launch of our first co-developed products this summer. These products aim to significantly enhance neural cell differentiation from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and introduce innovative stabilized FGF-2 products. These advancements build on the comprehensive suite of tools already developed by our companies to tackle the challenges associated with the rapid degradation of essential media components, such as growth factors and cytokines, during stem cell culture.

“After a serendipitous coffee-queue encounter with Sally at the NYSCF conference, I am delighted to see this collaboration evolve into a partnership that will significantly impact stem cell science. We are beginning to tackle the complexities of stem cell culture, where growth factors—proteins that provide essential signals to stem cells—degrade at varying rates, are inhibited by natural inhibitors accumulating in the culture, and are sequestered, leading to a fundamental lack of control over culture conditions. This lack of control affects the quality of data and scalability for disease models and the development of cell therapies.” added Dr Catherine Elton, CEO and Founder of Qkine.

By addressing the instability of key growth factors through controlled-release technologies, our new products have the potential to dramatically improve the reproducibility and scalability of stem cell cultures. This advancement is crucial for drug discovery and therapeutic applications, marking a transformative step forward in the field of stem cell research and development

Qkine, a spin-out from University of Cambridge, UK and StemCultures, a partnership with the Neural Stem Cell Institute (NSCI) headed by Prof. Sally Temple, a pioneer contributing to the discovery of stem cells in the brain, are science-led teams committed to providing new solutions to improve stem cell culture and support emerging technologies that have impact on human health and well-being.

About Qkine: Qkine manufactures high-purity, animal-free growth factors, cytokines, and other complex proteins for life science applications including stem cell and organoid culture. Based in Cambridge, UK, Qkine combines proprietary production processes with protein engineering technology to tackle fundamental biological, quality and scale-up challenges to provide more reliable tools for research and bio-manufacturing.

About StemCultures: StemCultures develops novel reagents that improve the quality and efficiency of cell growth and differentiation in culture. The company’s StemBeads® and DISC™ devices support production of large, homogeneous quantities of cells through precise control of culture conditions, including the concentration and timing of the growth factors regulating proliferation and differentiation. The portfolio of products has proven value for stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) cultures to reduce spontaneous differentiation, enhance pluripotency, and guide preferential differentiation.

To find out more about StemCultures’ technology, please see here

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The manufacture of cell and gene therapy products and tissue-engineered regenerative medicine products often requires recombinant proteins such as growth factors and cytokines