Posts By: Aneta Taylor

Companies looking for Collaborators

Copner Biotech, a biotechnology company based in Ebbw Vale, have partnered up with Jellagen Ltd to explore 3D polymer scaffolds capable of reliably forming organoid structures. An organoid is a 3D multicellular in vitro tissue construct that mimics its corresponding in vivo organ, such that it can be used to study aspects of that organ in the tissue culture dish.  The more accurately organoids represent real organ tissues, the more accurate researchers’ data becomes, leading to improved cancer research, for example.

This off-the-shelve product concept, resulting from the complimentary coupling of Copner Biotech’s proprietary scaffold fabrication technology and Jellagen’s Collagen Type 0 chemistry platform technologies, will offer scientists a user-friendly solution to organoid formation with batch-to-batch consistency. Current methods to form organoids have the potential to introduce human error, as well as leading to variable organoid structures. Controlling this variability will ultimately improve experimental procedure by removing unnecessary variables.

Jellagen’s Collagen Type 0 is sustainably derived from jellyfish and is used in cell culture and tissue engineering. To date, the collagen Type 0 matrix has been successfully applied to develop pancreatic and ovarian cancer spheroid models. The advantages of the Collagen Type 0 matrix over other extracellular matrix (ECM) products are that it demonstrates minimal interference with tumour signalling, due to a reduced presence of biologically active motifs in polymer or any mammalian growth factors. This allows the researcher to focus on cell-to-cell interactions, while the matrix interference is minimal.

The companies are now actively looking for collaborators to validate the novel scaffold in a laboratory setting, and if you would like to know more then please contact Jordan Copner (CEO, Copner Biotech) using the following email address:

Image of a spheroid model of Breast infiltrating ductal and lobular carcinoma model cultured using Collagen Type 0 ECM.
Reference:  Cellaria Inc. 3D Model of Immune Niche of the Tumor (MINT™)

The Professor Chris McGuigan 2021 Awards Symposium 

On Friday 22nd April 2022 the School of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences hosted an event to celebrate Professor Chris McGuigan’s legacy of excellence and innovation in drug discovery science at Cardiff University. This event takes place every other year and is possible because of the generous donation from Dr Geoffrey Henson to establish a memorial fund for Professor Chris McGuigan who was his friend and colleague. It is dedicated to awarding people who follow his legacy in the field of drug discovery in three categories: 

  • McGuigan Outstanding PhD Thesis Prize 
  • McGuigan U35 Drug Discovery Star Prize 
  • McGuigan Prize for Distinguished Work in Drug Discovery  

Professor McGuigan worked for many years at Cardiff University and was a specialist drug designer and developer and was one of the UK’s leading scientists in the field of drug discovery. Professor McGuigan was Chair of the Life Sciences Hub and directed the Life Sciences Research Network Wales. Professor McGuigan sadly passed away in 2016 and this fund was created to recognize and award individuals who are rising stars or leaders in the field.  

Professor McGuigan was chair of the Life Sciences Hub at Cardiff University and the Director of Life Sciences Research Network Wales.  His research expertise was in new drug discovery and development in treatment of cancer, HIV, hepatitis B and C, shingles, measles, influenza and CNS disease. He invented 4 experimental drugs, which made it through to clinical trials – a huge achievement in itself, published over 200 scientific papers and submitted over 100 patent applications. He collaborated with scientists in Europe and the USA. 

The event was delivered in the format of a prize ceremony with oral presentations from the awardees. Professor Mark Gumbleton – Head of School of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Professor Andrea Brancale – Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of LSRNW introduced the three awardees who in turn presented their work in the form of a three – part symposium. 

The first presenting winner was Wioleta Zelek (Cardiff University) who was awarded with the McGuigan Outstanding PhD Thesis Prize which recognises the best thesis in drug discovery related research by a Cardiff University doctoral graduate.  

The next presenter was Michael Menden (Helmholtz Zentrum Müncheni) who received the McGuigan U35 Drug Discovery Star Prize which recognises an early career researcher who has made a significant, original and internationally recognised impact in drug discovery sciences. 

After a coffee break, the last presentation was delivered by Johan Neyts (KU Leuven) who was awarded the McGuigan Prize for Distinguished Work in Drug Discovery for a senior researcher (academic or industrial) who has a distinguished international reputation and a proven track record of leadership. 

The symposium celebrated awardees from 2021, delayed by the pandemic and we are looking forward to the 2023 awards nominations for which will be opening soon.