Dr Peter Evans
Co-founder of the Biotechnology Company Abcellute.
I obtained all of my degrees (B.A. Biochemistry, M.A. and D.Phil.) at the University of Oxford. I acted as Tutor in Biochemistry (Jesus College, Oxford University) for a year before taking a postdoctoral position, investigating the mechanisms of protein degradation, at the University of Nottingham. Subsequently, I returned to my home city, Cardiff, as a lecturer in cell biology/biochemistry.
The work is centred on the use of primary epithelial cell cultures as an alternative to animal experimentation. In particular factors maintaining in vivo like properties are being investigated so allowing long term cell preservation in vitro. The ultimate aim of this program is to provide an alternative to whole organ transplantation, either by injecting banked cells or by enhancing the growth of the cells remaining in vivo. Hepatocytes and kidney proximal tubule cell cultures are also being used to study mechanisms of toxicity and the interorgan handling of drugs.
Ethical approval has been obtained to extract cells from human tissue removed during the course normal resections. This has had the important consequence that the results obtained are directly valid to man.
The approach has been received well by the pharmaceutical industry. Aspects of the work have been patented and used by a spin out company (Abcellute). Many companies including AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, LGC, GSK, Mitsubishi and Pfizer have used successfully the living material in their research.
In addition, papers are being published by third parties that have found that the methods that we have developed are superior to other techniques (e.g. A novel matrix for the short-term storage of cells:utility in drug metabolism and drug transporter studies with rat, dog and human hepatocytes. A-P Palmgren, B-M Fihn, J Bird, P Courtney and K Grime Xenobiotica 43, 487-497 (2013): The utility of cold-preserved human hepatocytes in studies on cytochrome P450 induction and hepatic drug transport. S Juric, P Lundquist, Y Hu, A Jureus and A-K Sohlenius-Sternbeck. Xenobiotica 43, 785-791 (2013).
The pharmaceutical industry realises the limitations of working with established cell lines and cryopreserved cells. Freshly prepared primary cells have become their "Gold Standard." Our techniques allow cells to be transported worldwide in a no spill format. When they arrive, the cells can be reactivated easily and retain all of their in vivo properties. Our recent research has more than doubled the useful preservation time.
The work has been supported by the Wellcome Trust,. National Kidney Research Fund, Biodynamics Ltd, Nycomed-Amersham Ltd, NCR3s, Wales Spin Out Program, The Cardiff Partnership Fund, The Welsh School of Pharmacy, The DTI, Finance Wales and Fusion IP.