Stem cell research is providing new avenues for both therapy and diagnosis but has been limited by the low availability of high-quality, affordable and consistent growth factors, which are required to maintain stem cells in culture and to drive their differentiation to specialised cell types.
Using his expertise in basic research on growth factors, Marko Hyvönen has developed a platform that represents a step-change in the production of growth factors. His novel method for producing large amounts of high-quality growth factors led to the establishment of his spin-out company Qkine in 2016.
He developed the method originally to generate large amounts of high quality Activin A, a growth factor that through specific cell surface receptors controls many cellular behaviours, making it of considerable importance in stem cell research and its clinical outputs. The new production method does not rely on the use of animal-derived products, which means that these processes could be used for production of clinical grade human stem cell cultures.
Qkine has since grown to encompass a portfolio of 16 products, employing 10 staff and exporting growth factors to Europe, Asia and North America. Qkine has generated over £2 million in venture capital investment.