23-01-2020 high-tech systems & materials

Demcon invests in CryoSol technology for acceleration of research into ‘major’ diseases


Rapid freezing of preparations for better microscopy
Technology developer and producer Demcon contributes towards a new technology that can accelerate research into major diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, tuberculosis and Aids. This concerns a new appliance, the VitroJet, for freezing preparations with better quality and a higher yield. Demcon provides for the engineering and production of the VitroJet and invests in CryoSol-World, the spin-off of the University of Maastricht which will launch the VitroJet in the market next year. “We want our contribution to support the scientists who have to develop new treatments for these diseases in the coming years.”

Scientific research into the causes of and possible treatments for various diseases is focusing partly on the role that proteins play in the disease processes. Proteins are being studied with electron-microscopy (EM). This takes place at very low (cryogenic) temperatures (cryo-EM), for the proteins are first frozen in order to obtain a sharp image. Proteins must be frozen extremely fast, in a process known as vitrification, to obtain the best quality samples/preparations. The Maastricht researchers, headed by Nanobiology Professor Peter Peters at the Institute for Nanoscopy of the Health, Medicine and Life Sciences faculty, have successfully been able to automate the vitrification process in recent years. The result is a new appliance, the VitroJet, that with a 90% yield, provides better quality preparations. CryoSol will supply the first appliances in April 2020 and this is expected to rise to around 50 per year in due course.

CryoSol spin-off
With the aid of investors, Professor Peters and colleagues then formed a spin-off, named CryoSol. CryoSol focuses on further development of the new technology and on marketing the VitroJet, in the first instance to teaching hospitals and research institutes. For the industrialization, two experienced high-tech entrepreneurs were brought on board, Ben Bormans (CEO) and Emile Asselbergs (COO). Both know the electron-microscopy world inside out and worked at FEI in Eindhoven. There they were involved in the spin-off PhenomWorld, which launched a revolutionary table model electron microscope in the market. Until last year, Asselbergs was CEO of PhenomWorld (now part of Thermo Fisher Scientific).

“We want to co-invest in the breakthrough that, according to Professor Peters, hundreds of research groups in the academic world are waiting for,” explains Dennis Schipper, CEO of the Demcon group. “In that way, our contribution can support the scientists who have to develop new treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer in the coming years.”

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Strategic investment
The partnership with CryoSol is in line with Demcon’s philosophy, says Jemy Pauwels. Since last spring, he has held the new position of Director Investment at Demcon. “We invest with capital but above all, also with people, production capacity and where necessary, facilities such as accommodation. In general, we focus on start-ups for which Demcon can act as an engineering and manufacturing partner. The technology has to fit with Demcon and must be consistent with solving social issues.” Demcon invests in companies that are of strategic importance because they fit within the priorities of the business, Pauwels adds. CryoSol is active at the cutting edge of the medical world and high tech; as a result, it is a good fit with our profile.

About Demcon
Demcon (700 employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products and systems that offer solutions for technical and societal challenges.

Demcon has a sense of responsibility for helping society further. Creating Shared Value. Value for the company, its employees, the customers, society and the world. The focus areas are high-tech systems, medical systems and robotic systems. Demcon has branches in Enschede, Best, Delft, Groningen, Münster (Germany) and Singapore.

See also www.cryosol-world.com.