Spin-Off Project UriCell

About

UriCell is a spin-off project from the Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at the University Hospital Düsseldorf. It is currently funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy through the program “EXIST Transfer of Research I” until the end of the year 2022.

Based on the research from the last five years, UriCell can isolate and expand kidney stem cells from human urine samples. Utilizing this unique cell type, UriCell aims to establish the world’s first kidney-stem cell bank, innovative kidney diagnostics and personalized cellular therapy for kidney damage.

 

 

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Rahman MS, Wruck W, Spitzhorn LS, Nguyen L, Bohndorf M, Martins S, Asar F, Ncube A, Erichsen L, Graffmann N, Adjaye J. The FGF, TGFβ and WNT axis Modulate Self-renewal of Human SIX2(+) Urine Derived Renal Progenitor Cells. Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 20;10(1):739. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-57723-2. PubMed PMID: 31959818; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6970988. Weblink

 

The benefits of the UriCell approach include non-invasive and easy access to personalized human kidney stem cells with high differentiation and regenerative potential.

 

Urine-derived stem cells as innovative platform for drug testing and disease modelling Rahman MS, Spitzhorn LS, Ncube A, Nguyen L, Bohndorf M, Wruck W, Adjaye J. Drug target Review 2018, 2 (20 July 2018) Weblink

 

 

UriCell Strategy

The UriCell Strategy includes three pillars

  1. Kidney Stem Cell Bank
  2. Kidney Diagnostics
  3. Cellular Therapy for Kidney-associated Diseases

Challenge

The kidneys are high complex organs which are crucial for human health by filtration of drugs and toxins and thus process 1800 litres of blood each day.

The prevalence of kidney-associated diseases is increasing and identified as a big health and economic burden worldwide with over 760 million patients. Kidney diseases include Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), Kidney Cancer (RCC) and Rare Kidney Diseases.

The current diagnostic tools include chemical-based approaches on blood and urine level, imaging techniques such as ultra-sound as well as invasive kidney biopsy for analysis on the cellular level.

So far, dialysis or kidney transplantation are the only treatment options when the disease has progressed. In Germany alone, 90.000 patients receive dialysis with annual costs of 40.000€ per patient, total costs of 3.6 billion €, and huge implications for their everyday life. Transplantation as a treatment option is associated with a waiting time of 6 to 8 years due to organ shortage and lifelong medication with immunosuppressors.

Mission

The mission of UriCell is to initiate a paradigm shift in the kidney field and to revolutionize kidney health. With innovative diagnostics and treatment options, UriCell wants to optimize prevention, detection, and therapy of kidney diseases to improve the health of millions suffering from kidney-associated diseases.

The UriCell Team

Upper Row: Dr. Lucas-Sebastian Spitzhorn (Scientist, Project Leader), Dipl. Ing. Wasco Wruck (Bioinformatician), Prof. Dr. James Adjaye (Project Mentor, Institute Director), Martina Bohndorf (Medical Technical Assistant), M. Sc. Audrey Ncube (Scientist). Lower Row: B. Sc. Paul Stut (Business Development),), B. Sc. Lea May (Biological Technical Assistant)

 

 

Dr. rer. nat. Lucas-Sebastian Spitzhorn, Scientist/Project Leader

Management Board

Research & Development, Research Studies, Quality Management

PhD Biology (summa cum laude) Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Expertise: seven years practical experience in the human stem cell field, MSCs, kidney stem cells from amniotic fluid and urine, iPSCs, iMSCs, translational studies (liver and bone healing in vivo)

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B. Sc. Paul Stut, Business Development

Management Board

Sales & Marketing, Finance & Law

B. Sc. cooperative study program Business Administration NORDAKADEMIE Elmshorn/Johnson & Johnson Medical GmbH

Oxford Executive Leadership Programme, Saïd Business School Oxford

Expertise: medical/healthcare business (Germany, Sweden, USA), sales and consulting, marketing, finance

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M. Sc. Audrey Ncube, Scientist

Research & Development, Technique Establishment

M. Sc. Biomedical Sciences, B. Sc. Applied Biology, University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

Expertise: years of experience in the research of renal stem cells from urine, stem cells from other sources, generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)

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Martina Bohndorf, MTA

Execution of experiments, Sample processing

Lab Management

Qualification as Medical Techn. Ass., University Cologne

Expertise: over ten years experience in the work with stem cells, establishment of protocols for isolation, cultivation, propagation and reprogramming of urine-derived stem cells

Contact

B. Sc. Lea May, BTA

Execution of experiments, Sample processing

Lab Management, Purchasing, Lab Hygienics

B. Sc. Biochemistry, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Qualification as Biological Techn. Ass., Rheinische Akademie Cologne

Expertise: isolation, cultivation, expansion and characterization of human urine-derived stem cells, laboratory analytics

Contact

Dipl. Ing. Wasco Wruck, Bioinformatician

Bioinformatical Analyses, IT & Data Management

Diploma computer science and diploma architecture, Technical University Berlin

Expertise: bioinformatic data-based high-throughput analysis (Charité, Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin), meta-analysis of transcriptome data, software development (Siemens AG, BULL AG)

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Professor Dr. James Adjaye, Mentor/Institute Director

Scientific Advisory, Scientific Network

Director and Chair for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine Medical Faculty Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

PhD Biochemistry King's College London, M. Sc. Biochemistry University of Sussex, Brighton, B. Sc. (Honours) Biochemistry University College of Cardiff, Wales

Expertise: innovative human kidney cell models from urine-derived renal stem cells, systems biology of stem cell fate and cellular reprogramming of human somatic cells (iPSCs), transcriptional and signal transduction mechanisms, iPSC-based models for hepatocytes, neuronal cells and age associated gene expression patterns

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News

February 2021: Future Champions Accelerator Demo Day

UriCell achieves the 3rd place in the FCA Demo Day Pitch Award.

November 2020: DxPx Digital Partnering Conference

Presence at the digital DxPx 2020, Europe’s biggest international partnering conference for diagnostics, digital health, regenerative medicine, and research tools. Weblink

April 2020: Start of the Future Champions Accelerator program

UriCell is one of the ten selected teams to partake in the regional accelerator program for technology- and knowledge-driven start-ups. Weblink

November 2019: Science4Life Venture Cup

UriCell was one of the 20 finalists in the Idea Phase of the Science4Life Venture Cup which is focusing on innovative, technology-based start-ups in the life science field. Weblink

November 2019: Winner of the Handelsblatt University Innovation Challenge

UriCell was the winner of the Handelsblatt University Innovation Challenge in the category Future Life Science. Application Video, Awards, Article PDF

November 2019: Start of the funding program EXIST Transfer of Research I

The spin-off project UriCell was granted with a three-ear funding by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the European Social Fund through the program “EXIST Transfer of Research I”. Weblink

October 2019: BioRiver Boost! 2019

UriCell was one of the eight finalists of the start-up competition focusing on biotech companies. Weblink

October 2019: 11th Congress of the German Society of Nephrology

UriCell was present with a booth and a poster at the 11th Congress of the German Society of Nephrology in Düsseldorf. Weblink

October 2019: 22nd European Congress on Alternatives for Animal Testing:

UriCell was present with a booth and a talk at the 22nd European Congress on Alternatives for Animal Tetsing in Linz. Since 1991 the “Linz-Congress” has emerged in Europe as the major scientific event in the field of the 3Rs and in 2019 the EUSAAT 2019 3Rs Congress Linz was the largest international 3Rs congress. Weblink

November 2018: Start of the funding program Start-Up-Hochschulausgründungen-NRW

UriCell was granted with a one-year funding from the European Regional Development Fund for further development of the start-up. The next steps include scale-up, quality management, product development, business model, intellectual property, cooperation and pilot customers. Weblink

November/December 2018: TechTour NRW Venture Forum

UriCell was award winner at TechTour NRW Venture Forum 2018. NRW Venture Forum 2018 is one of the 10 semi-finals for the Tech Tour flagship event - European Venture Contest Final 2018 (EVC Final). Showcasing 40+ innovative companies recruited in Healthtech, ICT and Cleantech based in the NRW region looking for seed and series A investments. An expert jury formed by investors and corporate key players selected the 25 best-performing entrepreneurs which were invited to present at EVC Final in Düsseldorf on 10-11 December 2018. Weblink

2018: Winner Rheinischer Innovationspreis

UriCell wins the Rheinischer Innovationspreis 2018 of the entrepreneurship Düsseldorf. Video: The prize was awarded at the Arbeitgebertag 2018. Video, Article, Article 2, Article 3

2017: NUK Business plan competition

UriCell wins the 2nd prize and the audience award in the Business plan competition 2017 of the entrepreneur initiative NUK (Neues Unternehmertum Rheinland e.V.). Weblink

2016: HHU Idea competition

UriCell wins the audience award in the Idea competition 2016 of the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Weblink

2016: Winner BioRiver Boost!

UriCell is one of the winners of the BioRiver Boost! competition 2016, which has been organized by the industry association Branchenverband of the Life-Science-Enterprises in the Rhineland. Weblink

VIVID Magazine

The VIVID Magazine reports about UriCell's innovative approach to extract stem cells from urine and their use in research and medicine. Weblink

Stem Cell Network NRW

The Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westfalia features UriCell in an article about innovative stem cell enterprises. Weblink

WDR

The Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR: Westgerman Broadcast) reports about UriCell's riskless and painless method to gain stem cells from urine. Weblink

RP Online

The Rheinische Post (RP Online) reports about UriCell's non-invasive approach to extract stem cells from urine. Weblink

 

Publications

1. Rahman MS, Wruck W, Spitzhorn LS, Nguyen L, Bohndorf M, Martins S, Asar F, Ncube A, Erichsen L, Graffmann N, Adjaye J. The FGF, TGFβ and WNT axis Modulate Self-renewal of Human SIX2(+) Urine Derived Renal Progenitor Cells. Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 20;10(1):739. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-57723-2. PubMed PMID: 31959818; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6970988. Weblink

2. Constructing an Isogenic 3D Human Nephrogenic Progenitor Cell Model Composed of Endothelial, Mesenchymal, and SIX2-Positive Renal Progenitor Cells Nguyen L, Spitzhorn LS, Adjaye J. Stem Cells Int. 2019 May 2;2019:3298432. doi: 10.1155/2019/3298432. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID:31191670; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6525793. Weblink

3. Urine-derived stem cells as innovative platform for drug testing and disease modelling Rahman MS, Spitzhorn LS, Ncube A, Nguyen L, Bohndorf M, Wruck W, Adjaye J. Drug target Review 2018, 2 (20 July 2018) Weblink

4. The presence of human mesenchymal stem cells of renal origin in amniotic fluid increases with gestational time Rahman MS, Spitzhorn LS, Wruck W, Hagenbeck C, Balan P, Graffmann N, Bohndorf M, Ncube A, Guillot PV, Fehm T, Adjaye J. Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2018) 9:113 doi: 10.1186/s13287-018-0864-7 Weblink

5. Derivation and characterization of integration-free iPSC line ISRM-UM51 derived from SIX2-positive renal cells isolated from urine of an African male expressing the CYP2D6 *4/*17 variant which confers intermediate drug metabolizing activity Bohndorf M, Ncube A, Spitzhorn LS, Enczmann J, Wruck W, Adjaye J. Stem Cell Research 25:18-21, 2017. Weblink

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