Trince developed a new transfection technology based on a combination of laser light and photothermal nanoparticles.
To alter and study the behavior of cells, scientists often introduce molecules into these cells via a process termed transfection. Transfection also constitutes an essential step in the production of cell-based therapies. A well-known example hereof is CAR-T cell therapy, in which a cancer patient’s own immune cells are genetically modified to better target and eradicate tumor cells. Though different transfection technologies have been developed, each of these are hampered by limitations such as variable efficiency, safety concerns and/or a high cost. To help overcome these hurdles, Trince developed a new transfection technology based on a combination of laser light and photothermal nanoparticles. Their technology not only allows to simplify the procedure at a higher throughput, it also ensures that cells are transfected efficiently and in a gentle manner, so that the therapeutic quality of the final cell product is maximized.
Apart from being an efficient method, we have found that our technology has minimal impact on the cell’s normal homeostasis and functioning. This ensures that the engineered cells retain their full potential to perform their intended function, such as the eradication of cancer cells.
The company is a spin-off of the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy at Ghent University, led by co-founders Prof. Stefaan De Smedt and Prof. Kevin Braeckmans, with many years of experience in advanced drug delivery and novel biophotonic technologies in particular. The group’s decade-long research into light-triggered transfection, supported by prestigious ERC research grants and published in top tier scientific journals, laid the foundation for Trince’s technology. The technology is based on photothermal nanoparticles, which upon laser irradiation generate heat and mechanical energy to create nano-sized pores in the membrane of nearby cells, allowing external molecules to enter cells and ‘transfect’ them. Beyond its potential advantages for scientific research, Trince’s technology could pave the way towards a safer and more efficient production of cell-based therapies. Kevin adds “Apart from being an efficient method, importantly we have found that it has minimal impact on the cell’s normal homeostasis and functioning. This ensures that the engineered cells retain their full potential to perform their intended function, such as the eradication of cancer cells. Our technology has, therefore, the potential to enhance the therapeutic effectiveness of cell-based therapies and make them more affordable.”
From our first meetings, Qbic has been asking the right questions challenging our base assumptions, helping us to finetune our go-to-market strategy and overall business plan.
To bring this technology to the market, Kevin and Stefaan joined forces with Philip Mathuis, who as Trince’s CEO can draw from his extensive entrepreneurial experience. As Kevin elaborates, “After a couple of years of fundamental research on this technology we came to realize how broadly applicable it is to many types of cells and effector molecules. At the same time it became clear that there is a clear need for such a technology both for R&D and cell therapy applications. Once we additionally succeeded in scaling down the technology into a bench top instrument so that it no longer took up a whole room, we decided to launch Trince with the aim of realizing the tremendous impact this technology could have.” The team also partnered up with a group of investors that included Qbic. Reflecting on this partnership, Philip comments “From our first meetings, Qbic has been asking the right questions challenging our base assumptions, helping us to finetune our go-to-market strategy and overall business plan. They are very competent and have an important network in the life science industry.” The team is currently working on making Trince’s technology available to the research community and pharma industry as soon as possible.
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