Spin-Off Project UriCell

About

UriCell is a venture 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 Climate Action through the program “EXIST Transfer of Research I” .

Based on the research from the last five years, UriCell has established a process using urine as an easily accessible biomaterial for the isolation of kidney stem cells. UriCell offers kidney stem cell and iPS cell products off-the-shelf, as well as on-demand to pharma companies, CROs and research institutes for in vitro applications such as drug screening and disease modelling.

 

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The kidneys filtrate more than 1800 litres of blood each day and thereby producing the urine. In the course of this, various cells are shed into the urine, including single kidney stem cells. We at UriCell can specifically isolate this particular cell type and propagate it to relevant amounts. The urine-derived kidney stem cells have a broad differentiation potential and can be efficiently reprogrammed into iPSCs.

 

Urine-derived stem cells as innovative platform for drug testing and disease modelling Rahman MS, Spitzhorn et al., Drug target Review 2018, 2 (20 July 2018) Weblink

 

 

UriCell Business Model

The customer-oriented advantages of the non-invasive UriCell approach enable more efficient R&D:

  • Cell isolation from any individual
  • Ideal for personalized research
  • Customer-specific cell isolations
  • Broad donor portfolio (in vitro diversity)
  • Perfect source for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)

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Challenge

The key to high predictive in vitro analyses is the use of relevant cellular models. Currently, human cells are obtained via invasive procedures such as biopsies, leading to very limited availability. For example, human kidney cells are only obtainable from patients undergoing a kidney biopsy. Due to this, animal models or genetically modified cell lines are widely used as alternatives, leading to sub-optimal results for the human system.

Mission

This is where UriCell comes into play. Our mission at UriCell is to improve the status quo. We enable high predictive in vitro analyses and innovative research by providing human cell material obtainable from any individual.

The UriCell Team

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

PhD Biology (summa cum laude) Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Expertise: Entrepreneurial skills developed within various start-up and accelerator programs. Eight years practical experience in the human stem cell field including MSCs, kidney stem cells from amniotic fluid and urine, iPSCs, iMSCs and translational studies.

Role: Business Development, Investor Relations, Customer Relations

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M. Sc. Audrey Ncube, Scientist

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

Expertise: Working for the past 7 years with stem cells from different sources including kidney stem cells.

Role: R&D, Marketing & Sales

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B. Sc. Lea May, BTA

B. Sc. Biochemistry, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Qualification as Biological Technical Assistant, Rheinische Akademie Cologne

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

Role: R&D, Production, Quality Control, Lab Management

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Professor Dr. James Adjaye, Mentor/Institute Director

Chair for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine and Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, University Hospital Düsseldorf

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 Liver/NAFLD, Brain/CBS,BIND,AD and kidney/AKI,CKD disease.

Role: Scientific Advisor

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News

January-April 2022: RWTH Incubation Program, Spring Batch
UriCell participated in the RWTH Incubation Program which is a pre-seed stage start-up program, with a focus on deep-tech. Weblink

February 2021: Future Champions Accelerator Demo Day

UriCell achieved 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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