News and Events

Cambridge, England 28 June 2016

Insect Virus Helps Fight Neglected Tropical Diseases

Scientists at Cell Guidance Systems, Cambridge University and Imperial College are exploiting microscopic crystals, made by a cypovirus, to produce stable vaccines for diseases that mostly affect the world's poorest people.

Neglected Tropical Diseases receive relatively little research funding, yet affect the health of 1.4 Billion people, killing over 100,000 each year. Now, scientists in Cambridge and London are exploiting microscopic crystals, made in insect cells by a cypovirus, to produce stable vaccines for diseases that affect the world's poorest people.

Vaccines can halt the spread of disease, but need to be kept cold. Keeping a "cold chain" all the way from production lab to clinic is particularly challenging in the poorest countries. So the development of vaccines that will still work without the need for cold storage is a major research goal.

Scientists working at Cambridge Company Cell Guidance Systems Ltd, as well as Cambridge University's Department of Pathology and Imperial College London's Department of Medicine have won a government contract worth almost £500,000 to develop a technology that could transform the way vaccines are made.

PODS™ (Polyhedra Delivery System) exploits the unique properties of polyhedrin, a protein made by a cypovirus that infects silkworms. The polyhedrin protein forms small crystal cubes within infected insect cells. These crystals incorporate newly made copies of the virus into their crystal structure, protecting them following release from the insect, resulting in a distinct survival advantage.

Genetic engineering techniques have now been used to adapt this viral survival mechanism to encapsulate essentially any protein, including vaccine proteins. As well as eliminating the need for cold storage, it is hoped PODS™ technology may also be used to make vaccines that can be taken orally.

Initially, vaccines for Zika virus, Ebola virus, and Lassa fever will be targeted. Dr Michael Jones, CEO of Cell Guidance Systems, the company developing PODS™ technology commented "The development of effective vaccines for Neglected Tropical Diseases is urgent and an obvious application of PODS™ technology. These early stage studies will confirm the potential of the technology to make effective, robust vaccines for infectious diseases."


CAMBRIDGE, UK, March 18th 2015


A new range of cell culture reagents is being launched today by Cell Guidance Systems which allows cells in culture to be kept alive during intense or prolonged exposure to light.

Cell culture is a core activity of life science research. Cultured cells are usually grown in the dark and are only exposed to light for brief periods. However, in some cases cells need to be exposed to prolonged periods and/or high intensities of light. Such techniques include fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), live cell imaging, calcium imaging and optogenetics.  Exposure to light in these experimental procedures can cause widespread cell death which impacts both interpretation of the experiment and restricts potential downstream applications.  In large part, phototoxicity is due to components of the cell culture medium which are converted into toxic free radicals by exposure to light. To address this problem, LiveLight™ cell culture reagents have been specifically engineered to effectively eliminate the generation of free radicals.  Using LiveLight™ reagents, even prolonged exposure of cells to intensive levels of light has negligible effects on cell survival.  Now, sensitive cells, such as oligodendrocyte precursor cells, maintain very high levels of viability.

LiveLight™ technology was developed by scientists at Cambridge University’s Stem Cell Institute. This technology has been exclusively licensed to Cell Guidance Systems. Dr Michael Jones, CEO of Cell Guidance Systems, commented “Phototoxicity is a significant issue in cell research, particularly for scientists working with neuronal cells. Many experiments are compromised by free radicals that arise from components of standard media. LiveLight™ products have been engineered to eliminate these issues and open up new possibilities in the study and manipulation of cells.”

LiveLight™ reagents are available directly from Cell Guidance Systems and through their network of distributors.


CAMBRIDGE, UK, August 22nd 2013


Cell biologists are excited by the medical potential of exosomes. A novel exosome purification technology, released today by Cell Guidance Systems, is set to transform the field.

Once thought to be just part of the cells waste disposal system, it is now clear that exosomes also act as microscopic delivery bags, protecting RNA and protein contents that can then be transported in the blood, influencing the activity of distant cells.

Exosomes may be useful in cancer diagnostics and for drug delivery, transporting therapeutic RNA and DNA, manufactured in cells in-vitro, to specific diseased cells. In some cases, exosomes mediate the benefits of stem cell therapy.

One of the major technical hurdles facing the exosome field is the efficient purification of intact exosomes. The gold standard for their purification is currently ultra-centrifugation, which is time-consuming and inefficient. Commercially available exosome precipitants, used in a small number of labs, yield exosome preparations of relatively low purity, in which the precipitant remains as a contaminant.

Exo-spin™ kits for exosome purification, launched today by Cell Guidance Systems, overcome all of these shortcomings. Exo-spin™ is based on technology licensed from A*STAR in Singapore. Exo-spin™ kits are suitable for the preparation of pure, functional exosomes from a variety of biological fluids including blood plasma/sera, cell culture media, urine, saliva.

Dr Michael Jones, CEO of Cell Guidance Systems, commented “Talking to exosome researchers, it is clear that the current options for exosome purification have significant shortcomings. Exo-spin™ is a breakthrough in reliable purification of exosomes that will enable the entire field to move forward more rapidly.” Exo-spin™ provides a gentle purification process in which no organic phases are used, no ultracentrifugation is employed and the exosomes are purified free of precipitants in as little as one hour.



Cell Guidance Systems Ltd, Cambridge, UK.  January 30th 2013.

Scientists Find Way to Knockup Genes

Italian scientists use molecular RNA Chaperones to increase protein production from individual genes. The technique is being hailed as a breakthrough in biotechnology that will transform cell science, accelerating the development of new medicines.

CAMBRIDGE, England, Jan. 31, 2013 / One of the most innovative biotechnologies of the last decade has recently been developed. SINEUP allows scientists, for the first time, to target individual genes in cells to knockup, or increase, the amount of protein they make. The technique will improve Protein manufacture, analyse the function of genes and engineer improved cell function.
This novel technology is based on pioneering research in the lab of Dr Stefano Gustincich at SISSA in Trieste. The mechanism relies on the discovery of an entirely new function for RNA. Although most well known as a messenger RNA molecule made by genes for protein synthesis, most RNA is not actually made by genes. Once thought to be junk, important functions for non-coding RNA are increasingly being found.
Working with collaborators from RIKEN in Yokohama, Dr Gustincich's lab identified a non-coding RNA which specifically binds to messenger RNA (mRNA) from the target gene. It then acts as a chaperone, efficiently escorting the target mRNA to ribosomes, where proteins are made. The new technology has now been tested on a variety of different cells and across a range of genes. Large increases in protein levels, up to 10-fold, have been seen.
The technology is being marketed by TransSINE Technologies and Cell Guidance Systems. Piero Carninci, CEO of TransSINE Technologies commented, "In many ways, the technique is the opposite of RNAi, a widely used technique that knocks down genes by targeting them for degradation before being translated into proteins. Both SINEUP and RNAi techniques have a myriad of research and biotechnology uses, not to mention potential for novel drugs." Michael Jones, CEO of Cell Guidance Systems commented, "We have had a great initial response from the researchers and biomanufacturing companies. This technology will have a huge impact on cell research and the wider medical field. We are very excited to be involved with this evolving story."




CAMBRIDGE, UK, Jan 7th, 2014

Cell Guidance Systems beats off competition from other high technology companies to win Crowdcube Tech business of the year