A new stem cell company, ImStem Biotechnology Inc., is the latest research venture to join the University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP). ImStem will utilize and commercialize the technologies developed by Dr. Ren He Xu, director of the UConn Stem Cell Core, and his post-doc Dr. Xiaofang Wang, who will join the company as its chief technology officer.
Xu is one of the few scientists in the world who has generated new human embryonic stem cell lines. Named CT1 and CT2, the lines are a major success for the state’s $100 million stem cell program. The goal of ImStem is to explore new approaches to utilizing these human embryonic stem cell lines for future clinical applications, such as developing a treatment for multiple sclerosis.
“We are very excited to start this new adventure, which aims to translate our research findings into clinical applications and commercialize our technologies to reward the state funding. We highly appreciate the strong support we have obtained from the state, the University, and our colleagues,” says Xu.
The UConn Stem Cell Core was established in 2006 and is currently funded by a Core Facility grant from the State of Connecticut Stem Cell Research Program.
ImStem will utilize lab space at the UConn Health Center’s TIP facility at 400 Farmington Ave. in Farmington, which is now home to eight companies.
ImStem is currently operated with financial support by the angel investor and co-founder Dr. Michael Men. Another founder, Dr. Xinghua Pan, is researching stem cell genomics at Yale University.
“I was thrilled by the fascinating opportunity to invest my funds on the promising stem cell technologies developed in Dr. Xu’s lab. Their technologies make it possible to develop stem cell products at industrial scales,” says Men. “We are confident we will reach our goals in the near future, and patients may benefit from the products sooner than we thought.”
“This is an exciting development for Connecticut, given state government’s significant investment in stem cell research,” says Mary Holz-Clause, UConn’s vice president for economic development. “This is the second company started at the University associated with the state stem cell program after Chondrogenics.”
According to Marc Lalande, director of the UConn Stem Cell Institute, embryonic stem cells carry the potential for major advances in treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions. Because embryonic stem cells can become any type of cell, scientists believe they could be used to replace cells damaged by injury or disease, such as neurons that could help Parkinson’s patients or pancreatic cells that could allow a diabetic’s body to produce insulin.