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Cardiff spinout outgrows incubator

26 September 2023

Woman working in a lab wearing a white lab coat

A company specialising in expanding organoids at scale is preparing to leave Cardiff Medicentre.

Cellesce, a spin-out from Cardiff and Bath Universities, has been a tenant at the Medicentre since 2017. The business grew to occupy five units in the biotech and medtech incubation hub.

Cellesce uses unique bioreactor technology and proprietary bioprocesses to expand organoids at scale.

Organoids are tiny three-dimensional tissue cultures derived from stem cells. These ‘mini-organs’ can replicate the complexity of organs. They give scientists insight into how organs form and grow, and can show how drugs interact, opening up new possibilities for drug discovery.

In December 2022 Cellesce was acquired by Molecular Devices - one of the world’s leading providers of high-performance bioanalytical measurement systems, software and consumables for life science research. With staff numbers having doubled since the acquisition, Cellesce is now set to move into custom-built lab facilities in the Welsh capital.

Victoria Marsh Durban, CEO of Cellesce, said, “We’re entering a period of huge change for the company after five years developing our team and our services at the Medicentre. We’re excited to be ‘graduating’ from business incubation and delighted to have joined forces with Molecular Devices. Together, we are moving forward with a shared vision to enable 3D biology and end-to-end workflows for our customers, particularly in the field of pharmaceutical and biotherapeutic development.

“The Medicentre gave us the perfect start – a supportive environment, a great location, and room to develop and grow. The time’s right to move on, with solid foundations and a hunger to take the business to the next level.”

Cellesce’s ability to grow standardised, reproducible organoids at scale has captured the attention of medical research, drug discovery and toxicology specialists all over the world.

Elizabeth Fraser, Strategy Partner at Cellesce, said, “Derivation and culture of organoids requires technical skill and experience. It is performed in highly specialised labs and the process is laborious, time consuming and costly. Manual culture typically results in small quantities of organoids of variable size-range and quality, limiting their widespread commercial use. We have the technology to manufacture reproducible batches of bespoke organoids on an industrial scale for commercial use in therapeutic compound screening and other high throughput applications.”

This work will continue from Cellesce’s new home, with opportunities for further expansion and diversification.

Rhys Pearce-Palmer, Innovation Manager at Cardiff Medicentre, said, “It’s been a privilege to have had the Cellesce team at the Medicentre and to have supported them along the way. Their work is hugely important, paving the way for a better understanding of cancer and other diseases, and providing a greater choice of therapies and improved outcomes for patients. We wish the team all the very best and will be keeping a keen eye on their continuing success.”

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