Drug discovery in 3D

A consortium of three Ayrshire biotechnology companies is to develop 3D cell-based tests, known as assays, to be used in drug discovery


A consortium of three Ayrshire biotechnology companies has secured investment to develop a new generation of 3D cell-based tests, known as assays, to be used in drug discovery.


Avanticell Science, an Auchincruive-based specialist in cell biology and cell culture, will lead the consortium. It will work alongside Ayr-based Giltech, a specialist in biomaterials, biodegradables and controlled delivery, and Prestwick’s Culzean Medical Devices, which designs and manufactures implantable medical products.


The two year, £1m project is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board and supported by RDA Scottish Enterprise.


Current cell-based drug tests use conventional flat layers of cell cultures. A 3D cell culture more closely resembles the behaviour of the living cells in the human body.


Avanticell will combine its cell culture technology excellence with Giltech’s and Culzean’s bioengineering expertise to put living cells into a three dimensional scaffold. The development of 3D cell-based assays will be a first for the UK’s biotechnology sector.


Avanticell CEO, Jo Oliver, said: ‘The project will result in the next generation of cell-based assays, accelerating and reducing the cost of new drug development to treat life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Avanticell is delighted to lead a consortium focused on these new tools as part of the company’s commitment to becoming a leader in the field of ethical testing of both conventional pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines from natural products.’