Mogrify is a UK-based biotech startup that officially launched in February 2019. Although the company hasn’t been around long, it has been making a big impact through its efforts to transform the development of life-saving cell therapies.
Its innovative cellular conversion technology takes a systematic, big data approach to transdifferentiation—the process of converting one mature human cell type to another without going through a pluripotent stem cell state.
In other words, the cells involved in these methods usually need to become stem cells before they can change from one type of cell to another. Transdifferentiation—directly converting one cell type into another instead—is not a new concept, but it is an uncertain one. Mogrify’s platform has been developed with a lot of data and precise systems to mostly erase this uncertainty.
This technique has the potential to revolutionise regenerative medicine.
“Firstly, the gene expression levels of the source and target cell types are compared, using next-generation sequencing, gene regulatory and epigenetic network data, to determine the change in gene expression required to achieve the conversion,” Pierre-Louis Joffrin, the company’s corporate development executive, explained to Technology Networks.
“Secondly, all transcription factors are ranked according to their potential effect (both direct and indirect) on the differential gene expression identified previously. Lastly, the optimal combination of transcription factors is determined by obtaining maximal coverage of the differential gene expression (minimum of 98%), whilst avoiding overlap in effect from the different factors.”
Prior to Mogrify, the reprogramming factors needed to induce cell conversion through transdifferentiation largely relied on trial and error. According to Joffrin, Mogrify’s results have been experimentally validated and can also predict the transcription factors used in known transdifferentiation experiments—ultimately serving as a directory of factors for direct cell reprogramming.
“This will streamline the discovery of new transdifferentiation protocols, that can be used to generate cell conversions which exhibit safety, efficacy and scalable manufacturing profiles suitable for development as cell therapies for regenerative medicine and oncology,” he said. “Mogrify’s algorithm can also identify which genes are repressing cell-state conversions—a factor that has proven successful in enhancing conversion protocols in the past.”
The company’s technological platform will be used to create novel cell therapies for musculoskeletal, auto-immune, cancer immunotherapy, ocular and respiratory diseases.
The BioTech startup raised $16 million in Series A funding in a round led by Ahren Innovation Capital, with participation by Parkwalk, 24Haymarket and University of Bristol Enterprise Fund III.
“The science and technology base Mogrify are building is truly unique and disruptive,” Alastair Kilgour, chief investment officer of Parkwalk, said in a statement. “If successful, the positive effect on patient outcomes across a wide range of diseases will be staggering.”
Robert Scott Lazar
Nichole Onome Yembra