Cellesce, has moved to new state of the art lab space in the Cardiff Medicentre. This will be the base for continuing organoid research and scale-up operations. The Medicentre is ideally located in Central Cardiff and in close proximity to Cardiff University, a Cellesce partner. The Medicentre also provides sufficient space to accommodate Cellesce’s planned expansion.

Cardiff Medicentre

The Cellesce lab at the Cardiff Medicentre

Organoids are derived from adult stem cells, for example those found in patients’ tumours, and then grown on in a research lab. The cells divide and cluster to grow into miniature assemblies of the original tumours, which display the same three-dimensional morphology and underlying pathology of the cancer. This offers transformational possibilities for medical research and drug discovery.

Cellesce is focused on the supply of standardised and well characterised cancer organoids for large-scale applications such as compound screening, especially for high throughput screening requirements, where significant quantities of reproducible batches are required. Organoids can then become an inexhaustible supply of miniature tumours for pre-clinical research purposes.

Cellesce, has formally launched and published the supporting data package for its first range of colorectal organoids. Based on three and a half years of bioprocess development research Cellesce has now successfully grown, reliably expanded and characterised a range of 10 novel organoids. Ethically derived from colorectal cancer patients, these organoids open up exciting new opportunities for further oncology research and compound library screening for drug discovery.

Colorectal organoids

Example images of five of our ten colorectal organoid lines. Confocal images using 20X objective of Cell Insight Cx7. Organoids stained for nuclear (blue) and cytoskeletal (red) markers for imaging. Scale 50μm

Colorectal cancer (CRC), is the development of cancer from the large bowel, which accounts for over 9% of all cancers. It is the third most common cancer worldwide and the fourth most common cause of death, especially in the over 60s. More common in developed countries with an ageing population, the high level of incidence and unmet medical need makes colorectal cancer an active area of research, which the successful development of Cellesce’s organoid technology is enabling, especially in drug discovery.

Cancer organoids are derived from tumours that are grown on in a research lab. Cancer cells divide and cluster to grow into miniature clusters that preserve many of the features of the original tumour, including similar three-dimensional morphology. Most importantly, they show drug responses that are similar to that of the tumours from which they are derived. This offers transformational possibilities for medical research and drug discovery. Organoids can become an inexhaustible supply of miniature tumours for pre-clinical research. The unmet medical need in colorectal cancer is for drug testing systems that better predict patient responses to new compounds including antibodies and small molecule therapeutics.

Cellesce’s initial offering of 10 colorectal cancer organoid lines, have each been DNA profiled and quality assured for consistency, viability after freezing and uniform size. Organoids are frozen and stored in cryovials and are shipped worldwide with instructions for their in vitro research use. Tumour-derived organoids are characterised for their pharmacological responses to a standard set of compounds as part of the quality control process.

Cellesce Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Marianne Ellis said: “These colorectal cancer organoids represent the first product made using our successful and novel bioprocessing expansion technology. We are now moving on to develop normal healthy colorectal organoids to provide a valuable resource from non-cancerous controls for the compound screening, as well as for basic gastrointestinal research.

Cellesce receives further funding

The Cellesce Team – Julian Chaudhuri, Nicholas Duggan, Marianne Ellis, Phil Barnes (Finance Wales) and Trevor Dale

Cardiff-based life sciences company Cellesce is continuing to develop its organoid research thanks to a recent six-figure funding round led by Finance Wales. This injection of new capital will enable Cellesce to continue development of its organoid expansion technology and establish its growing team in the GE Innovation Village in Cardiff.

Cellesce Founder and CTO, Marianne Ellis said: “I am very proud of what Cellesce has achieved to date. We have taken an idea, which emanated from the University of Bath, and together with our colleagues at Cardiff University have built this new technology.

“The initial funding we received from Innovate UK and NC3Rs helped us to make great progress. This significant additional investment will enable both further development of the Cellesce cell expansion process and further our ambition to become a significant player in the emerging organoid sector.”


What are organoids?

 Organoids are the future of medical research. They allow researchers the opportunity to test new forms of treatment on groups of cells, which more closely resemble the target cells in a person.

“Organoids are derived from stem cells and grown in a lab. They are clusters of cells that grow into minute versions of organs. They display the three-dimensional characteristics and physiology of real organs, offering unique possibilities for medical research focused on drug discovery and personalised medicine,” added Marianne.

Cellesce’s technology focuses on expansion, ensuring that there are enough organoids of sufficient quality to enable their application by the pharmaceutical industry. It forms a valuable building block that promises to enable widespread adoption of organoids.

“Cellesce is an exciting start up, which is poised to take advantage of fast evolving organoid technology,” explained Finance Wales Investment Executive Philip Barnes. “The company has high growth potential and is making exciting progress in an important area of medical research.”

CEO Nicholas Duggan added: “Cellesce is delighted to have secured the investment and support of Finance Wales. We are now in an exciting phase of our development, as we come out of academia and begin to commercialise a technology that promises to revolutionise several areas of medical research. We will be working closely with our partners to take our expansion technology to the next stage, which we hope will see Cellesce becoming the leading provider of organoid expansion services across the sector.”

Cellesce is pleased to announce that it has successfully completed its organoid technology development project. Funded by InnovateUK (the UK’s innovation agency) and NC3Rs (leading the discovery and application of new technologies and approaches to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals for scientific purposes), the project ran from September 2014 to February 2016. Cellesce now has a process for the production of organoids at commercial grade and scale.

Organoids are a powerful new enabling technology in drug discovery and personalised medicine. An organoid is a miniature organ in a gel matrix, grown from stem cells and cultured with tailored growth factors. Because organoids are closer to tissue structure than other available tools, they give more accurate test results. However, up to now, growing organoids has been a labour-intensive manual process, subject to human error, volume constraints, and with significant process variability.

Cellesce has built and validated a scalable process for the expansion of organoids, free from these constraints – and is currently using this process to expand colorectal cancer organoids.

We are currently exploring opportunities to deploy this technology across a range of applications.

Cellesce has successfully raised funds which will be used to complete the development of an innovative process for the expansion of organoids.

Organoid models are a powerful new enabling technology in cancer drug discovery. Because organoids are closer to in vivo tissue structure than other available models, they give more accurate responses to drug candidates. Using organoids in drug discovery assays, pharmaceutical companies can pick ‘winners’ earlier and weed out ‘losers’ before incurring high development costs.


We are pleased to welcome four non-executive directors to the board. John Allbrook will join as the board as Chairman. Francis Bealin Kelly, Mark Cole and Chris Thompson bring a wealth of experience in building and running new technology businesses.

Cellesce is partnering with world-leading researchers at Cardiff University in an Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency and NC3Rs funded project to test the use of bioreactor and bioprocessing in the culture of organoids to enable market-wide drug screening. Cellesce, led by Dr Marianne Ellis, will be using its biochemical engineering expertise to develop a […]