DigitSTEM – a new, large Danish stem cell research initiative in the neurodegenerative and immuno-oncology fields.

 DigitSTEM is a four-year stem cell focused research collaboration between The Technical University of Denmark (DTU), University of Copenhagen and Bioneer A/S. The collaborating partners are: DTU Bioengineering, DTU Compute and DTU Health Tech, The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW) at University of Copenhagen and Bioneer A/S 

The DigitSTEM Initiative is funded with 100 million kroner by Bioneer A/S and aims at developing stem cells into new in vitro disease models and therapeutics using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). 

The Initiative will focus on the neurodegenerative and the immuno-oncology fields. In both fields there is an urgent need for improved translational in vitro models as well as cell therapies with the potential to advance to clinical development. Throughout the initiative machine learning tools will be applied to develop novel stem cell-based disease models as well as improving manufacturing processes for stem cell therapies. 

By combining strong research expertise of the stem cell specialists, immunologists, engineers and bioinformaticians at DTU and University of Copenhagen with the expertise in developing stem cell-based disease relevant in vitro models at Bioneer A/S, DigitSTEM has the potential to generate ground-breaking discoveries in the neurogenerative and immuno-oncology fields and contribute to further mature the stem cell field. 

Christian Clausen, Chief Scientific Officer, Bioneer A/S. “DigitSTEM is a cornerstone of Bioneer´s strategy to further strengthen its capabilities and service solutions for neurodegenerative and immune-oncology disease modelling. The closer we get to mimicking relevant human conditions in our in vitro model solutions the greater is the likelihood that we can improve predictivity of non-clinical studies and thereby reduce and refine reliance on animal testing during drug discovery for our pharma and biotech partners”, says Bioneer´s CSO, Christian Clausen. “Additionally, as the development of stem cell-based therapies is moving faster than ever, we will build up expertise in this field and through DigitSTEM be able to assist cell therapy companies in the years ahead. Furthermore, the investment is significant research contribution to Bioneer´s performance contract with The Ministry of Higher Education and Science”. 

Bjarke Bak Christensen, Head of DTU Bioengineering. “The future of medicine is inextricably linked to technology, and we need strong interdisciplinary collaborations to realize the vast potential for designing individualized diagnostics, targeted treatment and novel therapeutics”, says Bjarke Bak Christensen, Head of DTU Bioengineering. “DigitSTEM combines digital and automation technologies with stem cell research and innovation and is therefore well-designed to take the field of stem cell

research and therapeutics to the next level. The project is also a good example of how DTU brings technological solutions into the hospital wards for the direct benefit of patients”. 

Melissa Little, Professor and Executive Director, reNEW. “Developing new treatments based on accurate stem-cell based models of human disease is a major priority for reNEW”, says reNEW CEO, Professor Melissa Little. “Indeed, the Copenhagen reNEW team allied with DigitSTEM, led by Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby, are world leaders in modelling neurodegenerative disease. Improving our capacity to analyse drug screens performed with such models is a major priority for the field.” 

For more information on the Initiative: 

Christian Clausen, Chief Scientific Officer: ccl@bioneer.dk 

Pedro Rifes, Project Leader, DigitSTEM: pri@bioneer.dk 

About Bioneer: Bioneer A/S is a Danish Research and Technology Organization (RTO) in the field of biomedicine and biotechnology. Bioneer A/S is a trusted strategic R&D partner to biotech and pharmaceutical companies worldwide creating customized research service solutions. As an extended R&D team and trusted strategic partner, we bring value with unique know-how and advanced technologies. With dedicated and highly skilled employees, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, and a history of more than 40 years of operation, Bioneer A/S delivers innovative solutions to the Life Science industry, as a Danish government-approved RTO. 

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