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UGent spin-off nominated for prestigious Nature Spinoff Prize

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 – Trince, an innovative spin-off from Ghent University, is one of four finalists for the global Spinoff Prize from the scientific journal Nature.

This prestigious award is given to spin-offs that translate original, high-quality scientific research into products and services that address market problems and have a positive impact on society. Trince has been nominated for its groundbreaking research into photoporation, a new and safer method of introducing DNA and other molecules into cells, such as in immunotherapy or gene therapy.

The Nature Spinoff Prize focuses on spin-offs that translate research in the life sciences or physical sciences into practical applications with added value for society. It offers academic entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to present their research to an international audience. The four finalists, including Trince, will present their innovative research live to a jury during the Curious2024 – Future Insight™ conference on July 10 in Mainz, Germany. The final winner will be announced on July 11.

Trince, founded in 2021 with support from UGent TechTransfer and the Industrial Research Fund (IOF), is committed to the development of photoporation. This innovative process was conceived by Professor Kevin Braeckmans, head of the biophotonics research group at Ghent University, and was awarded an EIC Grant from Horizon Europe earlier this year. At Trince, CSO Kevin Braeckmans, CEO Philip Mathuis and VP of Business Development Jan Van Hauwermeiren are supported by a Board of Directors, a Scientific Advisory Board and a dedicated team of researchers.

Trince stands for TRansfer INto CElls, and is engaged in the development and commercialization of a new technology within the biomedical/pharmaceutical sciences, better known as: photoporation. In this method of introducing external molecules into cells, the cells are first mixed with photothermal nanoparticles, which are then irradiated with laser light. The nanoparticles heat up locally due to the irradiation and create temporary pores in the membrane of the cells through which molecules can penetrate the cells. This approach minimizes internal cell damage, unlike current techniques such as electroporation.

Trince’s technology makes it possible, among other things, to genetically manipulate immune cells from the blood of cancer patients. These cells are modified to fight cancer cells after reintroduction into the patient’s body. The technology has the potential to save millions of lives in this way. Research into photoporation is currently focused on three key applications: the genetic modification of immune cells for cancer therapy, the genetic modification of stem cells, and live cell imaging.