Following from the Innovate UK Project Launch earlier this month, we held our completion board meeting on 20 July 2023. This means we are officially up-and-running as a new company ready to bring the next-generation of peptide hydrogels to the wider research community!
Current models of development and disease typically rely on animals or animal-derived products, which often do not accurately reflect the physiology of human tissues. This is a major contributing factor to the high attrition rate of new drugs moving from the lab to the clinic, leading to an estimated cost of US$2 billion to bring a new lifesaving therapy to market.
Growing recognition of this has led to the recent interest in developing more sophisticated, synthetic in vitro model platforms which allow for bespoke customisation of their stiffness and composition. However, despite considerable research effort, no single platform has yet pulled ahead of the competition and researchers continue to rely on animal-derived materials, such as those derived from Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) mouse sarcoma.
With the support of the NC3Rs, BBSRC, and EPSRC, researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a fully-synthetic self-assembling peptide hydrogel (SAPH) platform which aims to address all the current shortcomings of available in vitro models.
PeptiMatrix™ hydrogels are well-defined, have limited batch variability, offer excellent handling properties, and contain no irrelevant animal-derived material. They can also be customised through a variety of available methods to mimic both the stiffness and composition of any target tissue type.
This unique combination of features promises to deliver to researchers more accurate and reproducible data in drug development and investigative research, whilst also helping to reduce the use of animals in research.
“Our mission is to bring the next generation of peptide hydrogels for 3D cell culture to the wider research community. Behind this, our passion for reducing, replacing, and refining the use of animals in research is our driving force.
By bringing a reliable synthetic alternative to market for animal-derived hydrogels (such as those derived from EHS mouse sarcoma), researchers will be provided a way to generate more accurate and reliable data, whilst also helping to reduce (and eventually replace!) the use of animals in research.”
- Dr Johnathan Curd, Co-Founder & CEO
“From the start, we recognised it was critical we built a product that others could use reliably and that could be integrated into their existing experimental workflow. We’ve worked with expert 3D modellers at multiple centres across the world to develop these gels and are delighted to have an affordable solution that fits that remit.”
- Prof Cathy Merry, Co-Founder & CSO
Our plans for the future
Over the coming months, we will be workinng to design, test, and optimise a range of synthetic hydrogel products for 3D cell culture. This will include collaborations with selected early adopters who will provide invaluable feedback on our first set of products. We plan to use this feedback to help us fine-tune each hydrogel formulation, so that we can be sure they will address all our customers' unmet needs.
Behind this, our passion for reducing, replacing, and refining the use of animals in research is our driving force. We hope that by bringing an alternative to the market for animal-derived hydrogels (such as those derived from EHS mouse sarcoma), we can help to reduce, and eventually replace, the use of animals and animal-derived materials in drug discovery and investigative research.
To learn more about our upcoming products, visit our products page. The initial design and testing of PeptiMatrix™ Core is nearing completion and we anticipate PeptiMatrix™ RGD will also be ready very soon. If you are interested in being one of the first to trial these new products, please get in touch.
We are also interested in collaborating with academics on projects which aim to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals in research through sponsoring PhD studentships. If you believe that PeptiMatrix™ could help bring the next animal-free replacement technology forwards, please also get in touch or email my directly at email@example.com.
NC3Rs funded much of the initial work to demonstrate the adaptability and ease-of-use of the hydrogels, including funding to support joint projects with The Manchester Breast Centre and The Medicines Discovery Catapult.
To then bring this technology to market, the PeptiMatrix™ team developed their business proposition first through the ICURe programme and then through a project funded by the UoN’s Strategic Innovation Fund. Following this, we were successful in securing grant funding from the highly-competitive ICURe Follow-on-Fund offered by Innovate UK.
Dr Kamal Badiani has also been involved with the development of the technology by developing the desired, high-quality peptide(s) for the hydrogel platform. Consequently, the platform now offers superior reproducibility when compared to similar biomaterials currently on the market. Dr Badiani continues to be involved with the project as a member of the Board of PeptiMatrix™.
There are, of course, many more who have contributed to the success of PeptiMatrix™. Science is a collaborative endeavour, and we could not have done this without the help and support from Jennifer Ashworth, Neil Thomas, Jonathan Gibbons, James Duncan, and many more who continue to support the project.
Thank you to everyone past and present, and I'm looking forward to what the future may now bring!
Get in touch!
If you are interested in being one of the first to trial the latest innovation in 3D cell culture, please get in touch! You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting our contact page.