MRC Harwell to revolutionise metabolic disease research

A new partnership formed through the Harwell Health Tech Cluster has the potential to revolutionise how diabetes and obesity are understood and managed. MRC Harwell and OxSyBio, both members of Harwell’s 40-strong health cluster, have announced a formal collaboration agreement to develop 3D tissues for research into disease biology.

The partnership aims to bring 3D printed living tissues to external researchers and partners in 2019,  increasing the understanding of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. The combination of OxSyBio’s 3D printing methods and MRC Harwell’s deep knowledge of mammalian models of disease will make characterised and reproducible 3D printed living tissues available affordably and on-demand.

Speaking on the day of the announcement Hadrian Green, CEO of OxSyBio said: “We are delighted to enter into this partnership with MRC Harwell, which supports our goal of making radical changes in the way diseases are treated and managed.  As a business we rely on collaboration and partnership to bring our transformative science into the hands of the wider scientific community. We’re based in the heart of the Harwell Campus so it is great that we can be involved in this kind of innovative partnership right on our doorstep.”

The creation of these novel 3D models was facilitated and supported by the Harwell HealthTec Cluster Proof-of-Concept grant scheme earlier in 2018. This enabled researchers on both sides to explore whether automation of all the stages of production of the models was possible. The resulting technology indicates that it could be possible to save decades every year in terms of laboratory time, freeing up scientists from exacting repetitive tasks, allowing them to accelerate other areas of their research.

Professor Roger Cox from MRC Harwell commented, “Collaborating with OxSyBio will allow us to develop and validate new 3D culture systems for the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of metabolic and other diseases.  OxSyBio bring the expertise in developing the technology and large-scale production of printed tissues while MRC Harwell can supply the biological expertise and animal tissues. Being near each other on the Harwell Campus is a tremendous benefit.”

Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director of the Harwell Campus and Cluster Development at STFC said: “The announcement between MRC Harwell and OxSyBio is excellent news. Collaborating to develop 3D tissues for use in researching disease biology has far reaching implications for how we understand and better manage human health. As two key members of the Harwell HealthTec Cluster this development perfectly represents what we want to achieve with the Proof-of-Concept calls which is to kick-start innovation through private/public collaboration in the Life Sciences sector.

“Looking ahead we will announce more Proof-of-Concept calls that will also encourage cross sector collaboration with the space and energy sectors to discover further innovative solutions that can be applied to address Life Sciences problems.”

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