Under the umbrella of regenerative medicine, cell therapies are the foundation of many of the companies developing the next wave of drugs for diseases of the nervous system, cancer, cardiac disorders, diabetes and genetic disorders, just to name a few.
To help researchers and, eventually, clinicians, using cell therapies, West Coast startup Bell Biosystems is working on technology that uses magnetic resonance imaging to track and control the cells when they’re injected into the body.
Bell has just received a $350,000 grant from Thiel Foundation Breakout Labs to continue its development work, the company announced today. Breakout Labs is the newest program of The Thiel Foundation, established by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and funds early stage science companies.
The startup’s founders are brothers Caleb and Dan Bell, who led the company through StartX, the Stanford student startup accelerator, in the fall of last year. Caleb, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University, came up with the idea for the core technology, and Dan handles the financials.
Next up, the company is working on completing a $1.5 million seed round and is focusing on accelerating research and development partnerships.
Cell therapies are intended to replace failing tissues in the body — rather than cure or repair them. Current methods for tracking these injected cells are invasive and costly, the company said. Bell’s approach hopes to offer researchers total control of these cells with imaging, homing and kill-switch functionalities.
In 2009, cell-based therapies in the U.S. comprised a market targeting more than 100 million patients, according to Future Medicine, and they’re expected to account for $5.1 billion in sales by 2014.
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