Sales of acCELLerate’s new Assay Ready kits are going well in Europe and the United States. However, this success was preceded by a risky project backed by IFB Hamburg and a positive outcome was by no means certain. Dr. Oliver Wehmeier, Managing Director of acCELLerate, noted: “People basically said that Assay Ready cells could not be used in this procedure. But we said: ‘We’ll take a closer look’ and we believed in it. IFB Hamburg helped us take risks and eventually brought the project to fruition.”
Immediate use in research
Assay Ready cells are gently frozen at temperatures of minus 80 degrees, stored in liquid nitrogen and used for drug research immediately after thawing – without losing their vitality or sensitivity and do not require time-consuming preparation. Human or animal cells that have been isolated from tumours and proliferate in cultures are central. acCELLerate obtains these cell lines from cell banks and develops and produces so-called “assay kits” from them. These are user-specific packages of reagents, consumables, cells and test technologies for developing new drugs and applications in research laboratories or in the cosmetics industry.
Two years to success
Although the technology is still in its infancy, experience has yet be gained. “We didn’t want to stop here. We wanted to continue and develop a method for cells, which had previously been deemed too sensitive for the Assay Ready freezing method,” said Wehmeier. That involved a specific cancer cell line and examining cells for DNA-damaging properties. That project lasted over two years and saw acCELLerate develop a cell-friendly freezing method in which neither the cell growth nor the integrity of the DNA was damaged. According to IFB Hamburg, the standardised production process also guarantees increased reproducibility and comparability of results between different laboratories. IFB Hamburg put EUR 225,000 towards the project as part of “PROFI Standard”.
The “PROFI Standard” programme funds innovative research and development projects aimed at new or significantly improved products, processes and services with a maximum of EUR 1 million. This is part of efforts to ensure that commerce in Hamburg remains innovative and competitive. Founded in 2014 and based in Eppendorf, acCELLerate now has 17 employees. New methods are being developed e.g. for very sensitive cells, which can be used to predict allergic reactions to substances. The method replaces animal experiments, as tests were originally done on rabbits. This is proving a welcome side effect. acCELLerate is markets the new Assay Ready Kits with great success both in Europe and in the U.S.