UT spin-off Encytos provides an innovative platform for testing drugs for clinical studies.
A game-changing technology that allows testing drugs for clinical studies in a more realistic and hence predictive set-up. Researchers Silke Krol, Arturo Sussarey Arce, and Erwin Berenschot combined their forces to work on it. Now they are operating as UT spin-off Encytos. With their 3D-cell culture and rapid cell growth platform, various drug components’ efficacy can be tested at lightning speed. Silke: “With our technology, we want to contribute to personalized treatments, reduce unnecessary treatments, increase the chance of recovery, and even survival, for patients.”
“Already a few years ago, we were looking for new possibilities to test drugs for clinical studies. From previous studies, we knew that testing with 2D cells was a long and expensive process. Therefore, we started testing 3D-cell structures consisting of primary cells or cell lines,” explained Silke. Arturo adds: “We did this by investigating fractal structures developed in the Nanolab at the UT by our co-founder Erwin Berenschot.”
To their surprise, the 3D-cell clusters grew quickly on the fractals. In some cases, it took only eight days for cells to differentiate, while the process took four weeks for 2D-cell culture. “We never expect that fractals and the inorganic platform induced 3D-cell culture with that rapid cell growth or differentiation,” says Silke.
A GAME-CHANGING TECHNOLOGY
With their technology, Encytos wants to contribute to personalized treatments. Silke: “Our goal for the future is to use cells from a biopsy from an existing (rare)tumor and then grow micro-tumors from these cells to test different combinations of drugs for the best possible treatment. In this way, medical doctors can optimize the treatment for patients and avoid unnecessary treatments and suffering.”
The technology will facilitate research as well as treatment and therefore the investors decided to found the start-up Encytos. “We initially thought our product was for a niche market, but now we know that our product can be a game-changer for the industry, laboratories, and clinics worldwide,” adds Arturo.
FROM RESEARCH TO THE MARKET
“As a researcher, you always think: how to solve this problem? We discovered a pattern, but then you have to make it relevant for the market. That’s another piece of cake,” says Arturo. Encytos was supported by Nico Nijenhuis of Novel-T and received significant financial support to produce the first test batches of product. Also, the first employee, Lida Vrachati was hired, thanks to a Take-off phase 1 grant.
Together they started building up a network of partner labs and potential future customers in the Netherlands and Italy. Arturo: “Soon, we hope to promote our product at international scientific conferences and establish it in the scientific community.” Silke adds: “And if everything goes as planned, we will have our own bio-lab and production line in the future.”
Encytos is a new UT spin-off. More information about the company can be found here. Curious how we can help you with the process of bringing your research to the market? Read all about it over here.