Products made by Vancouver’s STEMCELL Technologies are now being used in over 30 COVID-19 studies worldwide. These studies are focusing on areas ranging from diagnostics and treatments to vaccine development and future prevention. STEMCELL is playing a crucial role in COVID-19 research by providing cutting-edge laboratory tools and reagents as well as through close collaborations with scientists. This will ultimately accelerate the pace of discovery and hopefully lead to a rapid resolution to the global pandemic.
“At STEMCELL, we have a team of world-class scientists who have dedicated their careers to developing superior cell culture and cell isolation systems required to study devastating diseases,” said Dr. Allen Eaves, STEMCELL’s Founder, President, and CEO. “It is always incredibly rewarding to see their hard work and expertise put to use. Every day we’re learning about new ways our customers are using our products to research solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re actively working to support these researchers in any way we can.”
STEMCELL is the global industry expert in developing systems for culturing human organoids, which are three-dimensional clusters of cells that closely resemble the biology of human organs. STEMCELL has partnered with an international team including Dr. Josef Penninger at the University of British Columbia, along with Nuria Montserrat in Spain, Drs. Haibo Zhang and Art Slutsky from Toronto, and Ali Mirazimi’s infectious biology team in Sweden. The group used STEMCELL’s organoid systems in a study that examined how SARS-CoV-2 infects patients. Their findings, recently published in the top scientific journal Cell, provide insight into a potential treatment capable of stopping early infection of the novel coronavirus.
“Human organoids enable us to better understand the pathology of this disease and to rapidly reach a therapeutic breakthrough. This work stems from an amazing collaboration among academic researchers and companies, including Dr. Ryan Conder’s gastrointestinal group at STEMCELL Technologies, who have all been working tirelessly day and night for weeks,” said Dr. Penninger.
Life science researchers and clinical labs also depend on STEMCELL’s specialized cell isolation tools and instruments to extract the white blood cells responsible for immune responses from blood samples. Dr. James Crowe at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center in Nashville, Tennessee is using a custom version of STEMCELL’s EasySep™ system to isolate specific immune cells from the blood of COVID-19 survivors. Their goal is to rapidly develop antibody treatments and vaccines. This research group has used the same system to identify potential treatments for other viruses, including Ebola, chikungunya, HIV, dengue, norovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus.
“STEMCELL listened to us when we came to them asking for custom tools to isolate the specific immune cells we’re working with from COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Crowe. “We were able to integrate the new products and protocols into our research. In turn, we hand information about these products back to STEMCELL so that they can make it available to other labs. It’s been a productive collaboration.”
STEMCELL recently reported that researchers at China’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) successfully used STEMCELL’s lung cell culture product, PneumaCult™, to grow human lung airway cells and quickly obtain the virus’s gene sequence, drastically shortening the path to vaccine development. Additionally, an international team including long-time STEMCELL collaborator Dr. François Jean at the University of British Columbia, an expert in antiviral drug discovery and emerging human viruses, is using STEMCELL’s lung tissue culture system in a recently-funded study to develop and evaluate candidate therapeutics for COVID-19.
“Solving medical challenges requires experts in science and medicine to work together with efficiency and accuracy,” says Dr. Eaves. “STEMCELL is proud to be a crucial component of this network by providing innovative tools, services, and expertise needed by our colleagues in research labs and clinical settings globally.”
In addition to supporting rapid and groundbreaking developments for COVID-19 research, STEMCELL’s products have been used successfully to study many other devastating viruses. This includes the use of PneumaCult™ to study respiratory viruses such as various coronaviruses, parvovirus, rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza. Scientists have also successfully modeled microcephaly caused by Zika virus and cytomegalovirus using STEMCELL’s BrainPhys™ and other products for neuroscience research. Similarly, STEMCELL’s IntestiCult™ was used to study viruses targeting the intestinal system, including enteric coronavirus and norovirus. Finally, STEMCELL’s EasySep™ reagents and RoboSep™ instrument have been central to studies of the immune response to viruses including HIV, Ebola, and dengue viruses.
About STEMCELL Technologies STEMCELL Technologies is Canada’s largest biotechnology company, with over 1,500 employees and year-on-year growth of approximately 20% for the last 26 years. Based in Vancouver, STEMCELL supports life sciences research around the world with more than 2,500 specialized reagents, tools, and services. STEMCELL offers high-quality cell culture media, cell separation technologies, instruments, accessory products, and educational resources that are used by scientists advancing the stem cell, immunology, cancer, regenerative medicine, microbiology, and cellular therapy fields. Find more information at www.stemcell.com.
Nicole Quinn, PhD
Associate Director, Scientific Communications