Since its foundation in 2001, Protista Biotechnology AB (Protista) has closely collaborated with several academic institutions in Sweden and abroad. The impressive achievements in applied biosciences, made by the company, have it's background in the development -and the use- of novel macroporous hydrogels prepared by the cryopolymerization techniques (cryogels). Prof. Vladimir I. Lozinsky (A.N. Nesmeyanov Institute of Elementoorganic compounds, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia) was very early focused on fundamental physico-chemical studies of cryogelation, and has therefore been instrumental in the development of cryogels.
At start the cryogels were studied and developed as bioseparation media within a collaborative effort of Protista, Nesmeyanov Institute (Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia) and Department of Biotechnology at Lund University (Lund, Sweden). The unique mechanical and physico-chemical characteristics of cryogels, such as elasticity and permeability for bioparticles, were quantified as result of joint studies. Several new protein-, DNA and cell separation techniques based on affinity, ion-exchange or metal affinity interactions were also developed in close collaboration between the partners.
At the same time, new techniques for immobilization and cultivation of mammalian cells were studied in collaboration between Protista, Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur, India) and Medical Department at Lund University. The bioreactors containing living cells on the surface of cryogel-based scaffolds exhibited good performance in the production of enzymes and monoclonal antibodies. The possibility to control adsorption of proteins and adhesion of cells on cryogel surfaces was created by means of grafting of responsive polymers studied together with Department of Organic Chemistry at Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium).
New prospects for development of cryogel-based biomaterials and their detailed structural studies have been recently opened due to collaboration with School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at Brighton University (Brigthon, UK) within European FP6 and FP7 programs (projects MATISS and MONACO-EXTRA, see Scientific Projects).
Another direction in collaboration with Brighton University includes investigation of wound healing properties of biocompatible, protein-based cryogels, their ability to accommodate growing fibroblasts and to support formation of a new tissue. Tissue engineering is also the subject of joint studies carried out by Protista and North East England Stem Cell Institute of Newcastle University (Newcastle, UK). Adhesion, survival and neural differentiation of stem cells grown on cryogel scaffolds are currently under investigation. According to the recent results, the neuronal markers expressed on the cultured cells reflect the dynamic process of neurogenesis in vivo, the fact creating good prospects for the cryogels as materials for regenerative medicine.
Neuronal network generated from human umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells.