Growth Factors Get Armoured

Cell Guidance Systems Ltd, Cambridge, UK 3rd April 2017

Cell Guidance Systems today announces the commercial launch of its flagship PODS™ technology addressing the inherent instability of growth factors.

PODS crystals under SEM

PODS™ (POlyhedin Delivery System) packages growth factor proteins into microcrystals which are able to lock-in the biological activity of cargo proteins

Growth factors are fragile molecules which degrade rapidly, resulting in loss of function. PODS™ (POlyhedin Delivery System) packages growth factor proteins into microcrystals which are able to lock-in the biological activity. The PODS™ microcrystals are very stable, but when exposed to proteases (a type of protein made by cells that chop up other proteins), PODS™ slowly break down and release their growth factor cargo. This unique process is able to provide a constant flow of growth factors over weeks and months from a single application. The microcrystal format also means that PODS™ growth factors can be attached to specific locations on surfaces producing localized effects. This has been difficult to achieve with standard growth factors and allows the modelling of the localized effects that are required for the orchestration of tissue and organ development.

PODS™ technology was originally developed in the lab of Prof Hajime Mori at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan. It is based on research into the polyhedrin protein which viruses of insects use to protect themselves whilst in the open environment outside their host. PODS™ technology is a clever engineering of this system to replace the virus with any desired cargo protein.   

Dr Christian Pernstich, research director at Cell Guidance Systems explains “As with drugs, delivery mechanisms for growth factors make all the difference. Standard growth factors are inflexible, sometimes unreliable and lack durability. Our PODS™ technology overcomes these limitations in a very elegant way. We have already made some of the most technically challenging growth factors, and demonstrated their biological activity, with many more to follow. As well as research applications, we are actively exploring the medical potential of these growth factors for vaccine production, and for delivery of growth factors.  We are aiming to regenerate tissues that have been damaged by diseases such as Osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. It is a very promising and exciting new technology.”