Medicyte and Reinnervate are pooling their expertise to generate three-dimensional cell-based assay technologies for use in drug development and disease research. The partnership combines Medicyte’s upcyte® technology for promoting the proliferation of primary cell types with Reinnervate’s Alvetex®Scaffold material for enabling the growth of cells in more physiologically relevant three-dimensional formations.

The firms claim that combining both technologies will provide a more predictive culture model without the limitations of cell supply. “The ability of 3-D cells to better predict in vivo responses to therapeutic and environmental challenges makes Alvetex scaffold technology an important new tool for scientists,” remarks Stefan Przyborski, Ph.D., Reinnervate’s CSO.

Medicyte is specialized in the controlled, scalable propagation and standardization of primary cell products. Its upcyte and vericyte technologies are used to drive primary cells into proliferation to allow controlled and reversible bypass of cell cycle–control mechanisms without inducing immortalization, uncontrolled cell growth, or changing the typical phenotype. Upcytes are genetically engineered upregulated primary cells generated using a viral gene transfer system to introduce proliferation genes. The vericyte technology involves adding proliferation factors into the culture medium to induce a reversible state of proliferation in differentiated, otherwise nonproliferating primary cells. The vericyte approach is essentially reversible as withdrawal of the added factors allows the cells to return to their original, nonproliferating state.

Medicyte has already developed a wide range of upcyted cell types and offers the technology through licensing or fee-for-service agreements. The firm also offers human hepatocyte, mvEC, and keratinocyte upcyte kits and cells. At the beginning of July Medicyte announced it will be coordinating an EC-funded consortium, Re-Liver, which has been established to generate a biomimetic liver for use as transplantable tissue for treating metabolic disorders and potentially as an alternative for solid organ transplantation.

Reinnverate has developed its alvetex platform to enable 3-D cell culture to be carried out in any conventional cell culture facility without the need for specialized equipment or additional media and reagents. Made from the same polystyrene material as standard 2-D cell culture plasticware, the alvetex scaffold has been designed with geometry and dimensions that mimic a typical in vivo cellular environment, such that cells are never more than 100 µm from a source of nutrients and gasses. The firm claims cells grown using alvetex form complex 3-D tissue cultures which more closely mimic normal in vivo cell growth and tissue formation than conventional techniques.

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