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A novel 3D cell culture system from spinout company Reinnervate


Biotechnology spin-out company Reinnervate has developed a special cross-linked polystyrene material called Alvetex – a highly porous ‘scaffold’ engineered into a thin membrane – on which cells can move freely and form complex three-dimensional (3D) tissue-like structures. The company originates from BBSRC-funded research carried out at Durham University.

Two-dimensional (2D) cell cultures, like the classic Petri dish, can distort and flatten cells and limit interaction with other cells. More realistic and physiologically-relevant models can be created by growing cells in 3D, enabling them to resemble their counterparts in living organisms.

Data breakout

$35-$40M Estimate annual value of Alvetex in the medium term
1500+ Number of Reinnervate customers worldwide
200µ Thinness of Alvetex scaffold membrane (200 thousandths of a millimetre)

Professor Stefan Przyborski from Durham University and who founded Reinnervate in 2002, says cells are sensitive to their growth environment. “Preventing cells from adopting abnormal, flattened structures and enabling preservation of their native 3D form is an important step in creating more physiologically relevant models and cell-based assays for use in research and discovery,” he says.

Now a leading company in the 3D cell-culture sector, the company’s technologies have several applications in life sciences, including stem cell research and tissue engineering, cancer cell biology, liver toxicology, modelling human skin and drug discovery.

Reinnervate is continuing to develop other innovative products to manage the growth and function of cultured cells, including small molecules that control the formation of neural derivatives from human stem cells. The company also has a formal and ongoing commercial research collaboration agreement with Durham University.

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