Global life science provider Molecular Devices announces acquisition of Cardiff-based Cellesce

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Molecular Devices, LLC., a leading provider of high-performance life science solutions has announced the acquisition of Cellesce Ltd (“Cellesce”) which specialises in contract development and manufacturing of large-scale patient-derived organoids (PDOs) for diverse applications, including drug screening.

Drug efficacy and toxicity testing often rely on immortalised cell lines or animal models that don’t closely mimic complex human biology. This can lead to inaccurate predictions of a drug’s potential and extended drug development timelines. However, a number of retrospective studies confirm a high degree of similarity between the phenotype and genotype of a PDO and an original patient tumor where if a drug worked on the PDO, it was 90 percent likely to work on the patient. This acquisition of Cellesce affirms Molecular Devices’ commitment to investing in 3D biology technologies that transform the drug discovery process and drive development of novel therapeutics.

“By combining Cellesce’s expertise in producing industrial-scale PDOs with Molecular Devices’ market-leading end-to-end solutions for automated organoid screening, we will enable customers to accomplish advanced 3D biology research with a commercial offering that’s never been available before from one provider,” said Susan Murphy, President of Molecular Devices. “This enabling technology will make over 100,000 compound primary screens with PDOs a reality and will accelerate industry adoption of organoids.”

Headquartered in Cardiff, and backed by a team of scientists, engineers, and manufacturing technicians, Cellesce technology produces uniform, human-derived cell or organoid lines including off-the-shelf colorectal cancer, gastrointestinal, and breast cancer organoids — with pancreatic and lung organoids under development — all at a scale unmatched by any commercial technology available today. The company’s quality-assured, patented bioprocess workflow and unique bioreactors have been proven to increase productivity 20- to 60-fold.

“Molecular Devices has the capability, reputation, reach, and resources to ensure that the Cellesce technology can be further developed, and used to its full potential,” said Vicky Marsh-Durban, CEO of Cellesce. “We’re excited to bring our domain expertise and intellectual property to Molecular Devices, together maximising impact for customers in revolutionizing drug discovery and unlocking the full potential of human-relevant 3D biology research.”

Cellesce was initially backed by the Development Bank of Wales in 2017 followed by another two rounds of equity funding that bring the total investment to £1 million. Mark Bowman, Deputy Fund Manager said: “This acquisition is great news and signals a big vote of confidence in the Welsh biotech sector. Cellesce is a small Welsh company that is now part of a multi-national family with the backing of a global organisation. This gives Vicky and the team a great opportunity to firmly embed their exciting technology in the life sciences market while retaining the expertise and jobs in Wales. It represents exactly what our early stage equity funding can help technology businesses to achieve.”

See their website for more information on the promise of organoids for advanced drug discovery.