Novosang is a multi-disciplinary partnership working to create a supply of red blood cells using pluripotent stem cells. The cells generated in this way are not an artificial or synthetic alternative; they are equivalent to those produced in the human body.
Such a new source of red blood cells would reduce the reliance of blood transfusion services on donated blood, filling the forecast global deficit between donated and the demand for transfused red cells.
We incorporate a collaborative approach, involving partner organisations with expertise in stem cell biology, haematology, biological engineering, bioprocessing and clinical regulation.
The first phase of our approach aims to gain a greater insight into the biology of red blood cell production. This will help us optimise the amount and rate at which red blood cells can be produced from pluripotent stem cells. Paramount to this are the processes involved in the final stages of red blood cell maturation, when the nucleus is expelled from the cell.
We are also developing manufacturing processes that can be scaled up to the number of cells required for a clinical product.
We aim to translate our current protocol into a first-in-man clinical study that would demonstrate the recovery and survival of cultured red blood cells following transfusion.
Our work has received £12 million of funding to date but full clinical trials will involve substantial investment that is beyond the funding levels available through standard grant awarding bodies.
Together with the intellectual property being built up within the project is the development of business plan, with the ultimate vision of making this a commercial enterprise in the future. One of our key priorities will be to seek further investment to run additional clinical trials and scale up red blood cell production.