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Atelerix: Breaking the boundaries of cell preservation

Atelerix: Breaking the boundaries of cell preservation

Atelerix, a spin-out from Newcastle University, is revolutionising the way that cells are stored and transported. Its simple, cell-friendly technology offers immediate access to stem cell therapies for patients suffering with a range of diseases from cancer to cardiovascular disorders and diabetes. The harvested cells can be stored and transported at room temperature, rather than the current system which relies on cryogenic freezing.

Atelerix: Breaking the boundaries of cell preservation


Start date: 2016

Website: Visit website

Location: Newcastle

Employees: 10

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

Funding: Grants: £200k



Technology invented


BBSRC research grant

June 2016

Took part in ICURe programme


First successful shipment of iPSC cell types


Innovate UK grant received


first sales in USA


first sales in Europe


first sales in India


Open laboratories in the Newcastle Biosphere


Atelerlix technology accepted into a clinical application


First sales in China

September 2020

£140k Innovate UK grant received


£60k grant from UK Innovation and Science Seed fund (UKI2S)

“The technology we invented in 2012 was based on an observation from the lab that alginate encapsulation could keep cells alive. At first, our objective was just proof of concept, we worked to optimise the technology to allow the storage and distribution of cells in the cell therapy supply chain. We secured our first grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in 2013. Over the course of the next 3 – 4 years, we undertook a lot of work in developing the technology, looking at its limits and improving it so it could preserve cells for as long as possible, whilst maintaining their function and characteristics.”

“In those early years, we were very much focused on research and development. There was certainly an appreciation of how it could be utilised in the real world, predominantly for cell therapy applications where there are huge problems with moving cells around, but we hadn’t considered all of the different markets our technology would have the potential for. We were focusing on cell storage, but we weren’t sure how to commercialise it.”

“The ICURe programme was the perfect vehicle to help us answer these questions. It allowed us to identify and map the target markets, as well as start to consider more of the product development side, rather than the technology development side. We started to think how this technology is going to be used by others and how it would be implemented.”

“As we progressed through ICURe we received feedback from the markets and adjusted our attention to the cell storage kit accordingly. It was clear that when using the technology for drug discovery and R&D, it had to be a simple protocol that everyone could use for relatively small-scale operations with the potential to scale it up. Before ICURe we were using a system that was much more involved, which made it much more susceptible to human error. ICURe helped us to develop a ‘kit concept’ to improve upon this, to make sure that when it’s supplied to the end user it’s much simpler and reduces the margin for error.”

“The research phase of ICURe gave us an excellent opportunity actually select and go out to those potential customers or markets that we could gather information from, to consolidate our thoughts and prioritise which areas were most appropriate to later target.”

“Following ICURe, we applied for the Royal College of Science (RSC) enterprise fellowship to allow us to expand and support a lot of those ideas that came out of ICURe. Our focus was on product development and providing our products for drug discovery. We then launched our first ‘WellReady’ system that incorporated our self-storage technology in 2018.”

“Since then, we’ve launched two more systems (‘BeadReady’ and ‘TissueReady’) for different applications and moved away from the university environment into new facilities in Newcastle. Our team now stands at 10 – we’ve taken on researchers and scientists to help with the development side – and a Chief Business Officer to lead the commercial side and plot out how to enter the cell therapy market.”

“The dawn of COVID last year was undoubtedly a challenge for us as many of our customer’s labs were re-prioritised, but it did give us the opportunity to investigate how our technology could be applied to preserve oral and nasal pharyngeal swabs to help with the pandemic. This was supported by a second Innovate UK grant. The results from the trials are fantastic, showing that we have the ability to preserve functional viruses. This in turn has led to a number of other potential applications so it was, overall, a positive effect that we hadn’t expected.”

“Aside from COVID, I think the biggest challenge we’ve faced was actually in starting the company. That’s when you’re doing 14 – 16 hour days with very few people, as well as needing to be in the lab working on the product. Things have become a lot easier as we’ve grown, with roles becoming more defined, but we are still a small company so there’s always more to do.”

“Going forward, our plan is to develop our technology into the cell therapy space. We have plans for next year to actually create our own general manufacturing practice (GMP) facilities so that we have a clinical offering for cell therapy developers, new cell therapies and existing cell therapies. Long term, our aim is for our products to be the gold standard for any non-cryo stabilisation of cell products in all of the different markets. We want to radically improve the current system particularly in the cell therapy field, to in turn improve the success rates of cell therapies for those patients who really need them.”

Steve Swioklo

Steve Swioklo, CSO & Co-Founder
Atelerix Ltd

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