Cutting Costs and Controversy: How a Swedish Startup Aims to Revolutionize Stem Cell Production

However, harvesting stem cells is a controversial process, since a major method involves harvesting during pregnancy. To date, most stem cells are harvested from adult stem cells or post-termination foetal tissue. Cellcolabs will specialize in Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are scarce and expensive. In an interview with TechCrunch, Bernow said, “The promise of stem cells or what it holds, is really mind boggling. “We’ve built this facility, which we believe is one of the world’s largest facilities, solely dedicated for production of this kind of stem cell.

The news of “mini organs” being grown for the first time using human stem cells has taken the world by storm, propelling the field of bio-medicine into a new era of advancement. While the process of harvesting stem cells remains a controversial topic due to its reliance on pregnancy, a Swedish startup has stepped in to offer an alternative solution that could revolutionize the industry.

In an exclusive update for TechCrunch, Cellcolabs, a Stockholm-based startup, announced a recent investment of $8.7 million, bringing their total funding to $21.5 million since its founding in 2021.

“To date, most stem cells are harvested from adult stem cells or post-termination foetal tissue.”

The controversy surrounding the harvesting of stem cells from foetuses has led to strict regulations and even complete illegality in countries like the U.S. But Cellcolabs has found a new way to produce stem cells on an industrial scale, using donated bone marrow from adult volunteers.

The clinical-stage biotechnology startup received investments from a number of notable investors, including Fredrik Österberg and Jens von Bahr, who co-founded Evolution AB, a company that provides casino solutions to online operators. Previous investors, such as Norrsken Launcher and the founders of Avito, Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert, also contributed to the funding. The capital will be used to scale up research and development, operations, and business development.

Cellcolabs was born from the pioneering stem cell research of Professor Katarina Le Blanc at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, known for awarding the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Co-founders Per Båtelson and Maria Rankka, along with impact investor Norrsken, joined forces with Professor Le Blanc to create Cellcolabs. They also hired medically-trained Mattias Bernow as CEO.

“The promise of stem cells or what it holds, is really mind boggling,” says Bernow in an interview with TechCrunch. “For me as a physician, what is really interesting is, of course, if we can use cells to prevent disease. In many cases, I think we will be able to alleviate some of the disease burden.”

“We are really about making the cells available. MSCs are extremely expensive, and they’re very hard to come by.”

MSCs or Mesenchymal stem cells, which have anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and immunomodulatory properties, have been hailed as a potential cure for a wide range of medical conditions. These cells have the ability to promote the healing of damaged tissue and regulate immune responses, making them a powerful tool in combating diseases caused by inflammation.

According to Cellcolabs, their process of harvesting MSCs from the bone marrow of healthy donors could bring down the cost of these cells by up to 90% in the coming decade, thanks to large-scale production.

While there are other companies working on cell manufacturing, such as TreeFrog Therapeutics in France, Cellcolabs stands out in their approach. While TreeFrog Therapeutics “reprograms” cells from the skin or blood into stem cells, Cellcolabs relies on donated bone marrow for their production. The French startup raised $75 million in September 2021.

When asked about competition, Bernow claims to have an advantage, stating, “We’ve been granted the opportunity to work with one of the world’s most well-known professors in this area, and to some extent, it’s an unfair advantage and a blessing.”

With a state-of-the-art production facility and a team of 45 employees, Cellcolabs is now ready to supply their MSCs to anyone committed to making a positive impact on healthcare and patient treatment.

In a statement, investor Fredrik Österberg expressed his confidence in Cellcolabs, saying, “When it comes to investments, our focus is on companies that boast a strong business case and contribute positively to society. With the 25 years of research of Professor Le Blanc, the promising potential of MSCs for healthcare, and an exceptional team at the helm, Cellcolabs is well-positioned to revolutionize the field of stem cells and healthcare.”

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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