Grenoble, France-based CYTOO, a a provider of innovative enabling technologies for high content cell analysis, has teamed up with Cenix BioScience, a developer of industrial high-content screening applications of RNAi. CYTOO in November closed of a series C funding round of $10 million. New investors, Sham and Entrepreneurs Fund (EF), led the round. Existing investors AURIGA Partners and Jacques Lewiner, co-founder and president of the supervisory board at CYTOO, also participated.
CYTOO, a company that specializes in micropattern-enhanced cell-based assays, has teamed up with Cenix BioScience, a pioneer in developing industrial high-content screening applications of RNAi, and three European academic partners to challenge the current limits of high throughput (HT) RNAi screening in cultured cells. The SME-driven project, coordinated by CYTOO, aims to combine HT applications of RNAi with an emerging new technology for normalizing cultured cells’ behaviour by growing them on adhesive micropatterns. The MEHTRICS consortium has been awarded a 4 million Euro research grant over 3 years under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program.
The industrial expertise at CYTOO and Cenix will be ideally complemented by academic partners from the Heidelberg, Germany-based Bioquant/Heidelberg University teams of Drs. Ulrich Schwarz and Holger Erfle, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based EPFL team of Dr. Pierre Gönczy and the Vilnius, Lithuania-based Institute FTMC team of Dr. Ramunas Valiokas. The highly cross-disciplinary consortium, covering areas from chemistry and nanotechnology to HT cell biology, pharmacology, automated image analysis and mathematical modelling, will develop new know-how for micropattern-enhanced cell-based assays with a very broad range of applicability. Ultimately, the proof of principle for the optimized methodologies will include several test-scale RNAi screens focused on basic and disease-relevant processes.
“Initial studies of our technology‘s genuinely transformational potential have already begun to reveal its promise for enhancing the quality of existing high content analyses and its potential for establishing novel strategies driving such analyses,” said Alexandra Fuchs, COO of CYTOO.
“Since experimental designs required for RNAi screens are among the most demanding of all HT/HC studies in cultured cells, encompassing virtually all technical challenges also encountered in compound screens, we expect the proposed scope of activities to deliver the maximal potential for impactful innovation, widespread adoption and clear relevance for all major applications of HT/HC cell screening, from RNAi to miRNA modulation to analyses of drug action,” stated Dr. Christophe Echeverri, CEO/CSO of Cenix.
The consortium’s administrative and financial activities will be coordinated by VITAMIB, a well-established French SME specialised in design and management of collaborative research projects.