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Singapore startup wins award for safe stem cell therapy research

Jack Loo | March 25, 2013
The A*STAR spin-off says its methods can make cell transplantation safer.

Singaporean startup VeriStem Technologies was ranked as one of the recipients in the Biospectrum Emerging Companies of the Year Award 2013 for its tools that enable the development and manufacture of safe stem cell therapies.

Veristem, a spin-off from Singapore government agency A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), was founded in 2009 by its president Alan Moore and chief operating officer Keith Wang, using core technologies that were developed by a team at BTI led by Dr Miranda Yap, Dr Andre Choo, and Dr Steve Oh.

The Award was established by trade publication Biospectrum to recognise startups from biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical sectors across the Asia Pacific region which have developed innovative technologies with the potential to bring out revolutionary changes in the healthcare industry.

Dr Andre Choo, lead scientist at BTI who worked on the antibody technology, added: "It is an honour for us to be part of this award with VeriStem Technologies. It affirms our belief that the technology can be applied to kill residual stem cells thus eliminating the risk of teratoma formation, making cell transplantation safer".

Having the ability to differentiate into any type of cell in the body, stem cells have the potential to be used to cure diseases or repair malfunctioning body parts. However, the ability to grow, multiply and change rapidly also poses a threat as these cells can become cancerous.

The team at BTI had developed an antibody that is able to target only the unstable undifferentiated stem cells and eradicate them within 30 minutes, leaving the stable differentiated stem cells untouched. This important discovery helps to reduce the risk of tumour formation, which can arise from undifferentiated stem cells.

VeriStem Technologies brings promising implications for the future of stem cell therapies. Dubbed the Cellradication technology, this method that is able to selectively target and kill undifferentiated stem cells is now licensed for research use worldwide. The company continues to seek partnerships with leading companies to develop bioprocesses for stem cell therapies, and is looking for opportunities in the field of cancer stem cells.

"We are honoured and very excited to receive the award. Given the rapid development and innovation in the region, recognition of our company and the potential value of our technology is a source of great pride. It is also a welcome recognition of the technology developed at A*STAR's BTI and the vision of our chairman, Dr Daniel Wang," said Alan Moore, president of VeriStem Technologies.


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