Progenitor Therapeutics founder named “Best CEO in the Stem Cell industry” by European CEO magazine

Posted: 7 February 2017

Progenitor Therapeutics, the biotechnology company developing drugs to regenerate tissues of the body, has announced that the Company’s founder, Dr. Yen Choo, has been named “Best CEO in the Stem Cell Industry” by European CEO magazine.

Progenitor Therapeutics is a spin out from Plasticell, a stem cell biotech company also founded by Dr Choo which is best known for its award-winning CombiCult® stem cell platform technology, but is also progressing a therapeutic pipeline chiefly focused on the expansion of hematopoietic stem cells and the manufacture of various high value blood cell types.

Dr. Choo, currently Executive Chairman of Plasticell and CEO of Progenitor Therapeutics, commented: “The group’s therapeutic activities – now split between Plasticell’s cell therapy development and Progenitor’s regenerative drug discovery – has been built up historically with a minimal amount of angel and institutional equity investment (approx. £10m), re-cycling of income from CombiCult® partnerships and more than 15 non-dilutive UK government grants, many of which have successfully delivered multi-million pound projects. In this way, we have managed to diversify and progress our therapeutic pipeline while delivering exceptional shareholder value.”

Progenitor Labs named a Finalist for the 2014 Red Herring Top 100 Europe Award

Posted: 25 March 2014

Progenitor Labs, the biotech company developing small molecule drugs to regenerate organs of the body, announced today it has been selected a Red Herring Top 100 Europe Finalist, a prestigious list honoring the year’s most promising private technology ventures from the European business region.

The Red Herring editorial team selected the most innovative companies from a pool of hundreds in the telecommunications, security, Web 2.0, software, hardware, biotech, mobile and other industries from across Europe. The nominees were evaluated on 20 main quantitative and qualitative criteria, including: disruptive impact, market footprint, proof of concept, financial performance, technology innovation, social value, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their respective industries.

This unique assessment of potential is complemented by an expert review of the track record and industry standing of a company, which allows Red Herring to see past the “buzz” and make the list a valuable instrument for discovering and advocating todays greatest technology business opportunities.

“The Red Herring awards have an enviable track record of predicting successful technology ventures and I am therefore extremely pleased that Progenitor Labs is one of only eight biotech companies to have been named in this year’s list,” said Dr Yen Choo, the Company’s founder and CEO.

“This year was rewarding, beyond all expectations,” said Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. “The global economic situation has abated and there are many great companies producing really innovative and amazing products. We had a very difficult time narrowing the pool and selecting the finalists. Progenitor Labs shows great promise and therefore deserves to be among the Finalists. Now we’re faced with the difficult task of selecting the Top 100 winners of Red Herring Europe. We know that the 2014 crop will grow into some amazing companies that are sure to make an impact.”

The Finalists are invited to present their winning strategies at the Red Herring Europe Forum in Amsterdam, April 7-9, 2014. The Top 100 winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony the evening of April 9 at the event.

Plasticell and Progenitor Labs seed cell therapy activities at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst open innovation campus

Posted: 10 June 2013

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, is pleased to welcome regenerative medicine companies Plasticell Limited and Progenitor Labs as tenants. Progenitor Labs is a drug discovery spin-off from Plasticell and recently received £4m in funding from SR One, the corporate venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Cell therapy and regenerative medicine is a focus of SBC’s open innovation activities, and these two new tenants are expected to play a major role in the incubator’s growing network in this area.

Plasticell, a leading UK biotech company in the stem cell field, specialises in the differentiation of stem cells to obtain cell types for a range of biomedical applications. It uses CombiCult®, its proprietary bead-based combinatorial screening platform, to differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells, embryonic and adult stem cells into a variety of somatic lineages for use by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Its sister company Progenitor Labs uses CombiCult® to produce ‘synthetic’ adult progenitor cells for drug screening, for discovery of small molecules that regenerate specific tissues, potentially restoring organ function in disease and ageing.

Dr Yen Choo, founder and CEO of Progenitor Labs, commented: ‘Open innovation is at the core of Progenitor’s model, with our shareholders and partners contributing finance, technology and expertise to enable drug discovery in the context of regenerative medicine.’

Dennis Saw, CEO of Plasticell Limited, added: ‘The attraction of co-locating Plasticell and Progenitor at SBC has been to group complementary stem cell technologies in a creative environment, obtaining access to expertise from GSK and SBC’s other stakeholders, allowing us to deploy capital more efficiently towards discovering regenerative medicines.’

Dr Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said ‘SBC recognises the patient benefits inherent in cell therapy, and is working to develop a network to catalyse innovation in this area. We are delighted to welcome Plasticell and Progenitor as our first stem cell tenants, and look forward to working with them, our stakeholders and other players in the UK sector to develop exciting new projects.’


Progenitor Labs secures £4 million financing to progress potentially game-changing regenerative medicine platform

Posted: 11 March 2013

Investment from SR One, GlaxoSmithKline’s Corporate Venture Fund, will fund company’s programme to discover small molecule drugs that regenerate specific tissues of the body.

Progenitor Labs Ltd (Progenitor) has announced that it has raised £4 million ($5.8million) in seed financing from SR One’s UK Fund.

Progenitor is a pioneering regenerative medicine company that develops drugs to regenerate specific tissues of the human body in response to injury, disease or ageing. Development of small molecules in regenerative medicine has potential technical, commercial and regulatory advantages over cell therapies. The financing will enable the company to discover small molecule drugs for a number of serious diseases.

Progenitor uses CombiCult® combinatorial stem cell technology to produce synthetic adult progenitor cells that resemble those lying dormant in a patient’s target tissue. Pharmaceutical drug screens can then be performed to discover compounds that instruct the progenitor cells to generate terminally differentiated cells, thereby restoring organ function. Whereas most currently available drugs treat the symptoms of illness, drugs that regenerate diseased organs will address the root cause of disease.

Progenitor will be based at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’ s first open innovation bioscience campus. Concurrent with the financing, Progenitor has also entered into an agreement with Scinovo™, GSK’s scientific consultancy and technical support model, which includes access to GSK scientists with a proven track record of bringing compounds from discovery through to launch.

Dr Yen Choo, founder and CEO of Progenitor Labs commented, “We are delighted to have attracted top tier venture financing and to have put in place an R&D infrastructure capable of delivering drugs that have the potential to transform regenerative medicine and future healthcare”.

David Phillips and Matthew Foy, Partners at SR One, will join Progenitor’s Board of Directors. David Phillips commented “We believe that Progenitor’s ground-breaking technology, combined with SBC’s open innovation model and drug discovery and development expertise of GSK’s Scinovo™, is a paradigm for future UK biotech success stories”.

Dr Martino Picardo, CEO of SBC, said, “We are delighted that Progenitor will be based at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, to seed the network of regenerative medicine activity we are developing here.”


Progenitor Labs named best emerging biotech

Posted: London, UK, 13 September 2011

Progenitor Labs is pleased to announce it has been voted Best Emerging Biotech at the Oxford Biotechnology Network’s Annual Awards Dinner held at Pembroke College, Oxford. Progenitor was selected from the biotechnology companies clustered within the “Golden Triangle” comprising London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Progenitor is focused on discovery of natural and synthetic molecules that regenerate tissues of the human body. The new venture brings together proven high throughput technologies with a deep understanding of stem cell biology. The key proprietary technology, ProScreen™, is a drug screen for molecules that can regenerate cells by acting on adult stem cells resident in the body. In addition the Company has obtained an exclusive license to CombiCult®, Plasticell’s award- winning combinatorial technology, for use in regenerative drug discovery.

Progenitor’s focus on drug development distinguishes the Company from other regenerative medicine companies that are focused on cell therapies. Development of regenerative drugs circumvents the ethical debate to which conventional stem cell therapies are still subject. Moreover, drugs have substantial advantages over cell therapies: they are easier to develop, manufacture, distribute, store, administer and market.

Accepting the award on behalf of Progenitor, Mr. Dennis Saw, CFO, remarked: “From its inception, Progenitor has been extremely well received by one and all in the biotechnology community. I am delighted our exciting business model and technologies have been formally recognized at this prestigious OBN event.”


Plasticell spins out regenerative drug discovery venture

Posted: London, UK, 13 April 2011

New demerged business called ‘Progenitor Labs’.

Plasticell Ltd, the biotechnology company developing high throughput stem cell technologies, has announced today that following its recent £3.5m financing, it has undergone a strategic re-structuring to enable the Company to focus on its award winning CombiCult™ technology for stem cell differentiation. Consequently, Plasticell Ltd has demerged its regenerative drug discovery unit into a newly established company, Progenitor Labs Limited.

Progenitor Labs has been assigned all rights to Plasticell’s proprietary ProScreen™ (formerly CombiScreen™) technology for the discovery of small molecule drugs capable of regenerating tissues of the human body, and has acquired an exclusive license to CombiCult® technology solely for the purpose of creating high quality, physiologically relevant progenitor cells for use in ProScreen™.

Dr Yen Choo, the founder behind Plasticell and Progenitor Labs, commented: “Regenerative drugs are an attractive alternative to the use of cells in regenerative medicine. Drugs are relatively easier to develop, manufacture, package, distribute and administer, and have clearer regulatory and reimbursement processes. Crucially, this business model is aligned with that of the pharmaceutical companies that specialise in discovering and marketing small molecule therapeutics.”

As part of the re-organisation, Dr Choo will transfer to Progenitor Labs to lead development of the spin-out, while Mr Dennis Saw and Dr Lilian Hook will be promoted to the posts of CEO and Research Director of Plasticell, respectively. Dr Choo will continue to direct the company’s scientific and business strategy as the Executive Chairman.

“At this point in Plasticell’s development, the Technology and Therapeutics units of the Company have very different business models and capital requirements. Segregating the two businesses will allow Plasticell to focus on growing revenue, while Progenitor Labs can more aggressively progress the development of its regenerative drug discovery platform,” commented Dr Choo. “My scientific colleagues at Plasticell have developed one of the world’s key stem cell technologies, and I am confident that together with Dennis and Lilian they will continue to build on that success.”

About Dennis Saw

Mr Saw, formerly Chief Financial Officer of Plasticell, gained a first class degree in the life sciences from Imperial College, London, and subsequently worked at the Max-Planck- Institute, Berlin, in the human genome effort. He next founded his first business, before joining Goldman Sachs as an investment banker executing corporate finance solutions and mergers and acquisitions deals for clients in Europe and the US. Mr Saw is a serial entrepreneur, having also co-founded a capital markets consultancy firm, a merchant bank and a securities research & brokerage house. He has been working with Plasticell since 2009.

About Lilian Hook

Dr Hook, formerly Principal Scientist at Plasticell, has 14 years experience in stem cell research gained both in academia and industry. Dr Hook holds a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and a PhD in haematopoietic stem cell development from Edinburgh University. Prior to joining Plasticell, Dr Hook was Scientific Programme Manager at Stem Cell Sciences Ltd, directing research primarily on neural stem cells and the generation of neuronal subtypes from embryonic stem cells.