Our client, Roslin Technologies Ltd. (Roslin Tech) was formed in 2017 as a joint venture between the University of Edinburgh and two impact-focused investment partners. Roslin Tech has a unique relationship with the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, from where it has preferential access to unencumbered intellectual property generated at the Institute. The Roslin Institute is a world leader in animal science and genetics and the Roslin Tech team collaborates directly with principal investigators at the Institute to rapidly advance its science programmes.
The Roslin Institute came to prominence when “Dolly The Sheep”, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell and the world’s most famous sheep, was born on 15 July 1996. Dolly originated from research into methods for producing genetically modified livestock. The team, led by Professor Sir Ian Wilmott, proved that specialised cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from. This was ground-breaking research and generated a lot of publicity.
The Schlich firm has been working with Roslin Tech since 2020, and before that George Schlich worked with the University of Edinburgh on their pioneering stem cell research since 1993.
In June 2022, BBC News profiled Roslin Tech on their global technology show, Click, which has been viewed over 100,000 times.
Roslin Tech’s current technology concerns induced pluripotent stem cells, which are re-programmed cells that can be grown into a wide variety of different types of cells, and in particular those required for the nascent cultivated meat industry. With technical input from the Roslin Tech inventors, Schlich drafted and filed patent applications concerning the products of porcine pluripotent cells (iPSCs, namely induced pluripotent cells) where cells are first taken from pigs and then re-programmed.
The Schlich firm worked with Roslin Tech and filed an initial UK application in April 2020, leading to a PCT application a year later PCT/EP2021/059909 which concerns a method of producing iPSCs, starting with a type of somatic stem cell. One of the key advantages of the Roslin Tech invention is that one does not have to use an integrating vector. The methodology can be used to produce pluripotency by culturing porcine cells with a non-integrating virus that expresses the so-called Yamanaka programming factors, such as Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc and KoF4. The cells are re-programmed to an earlier stage in their development and, by using a non-integrating factor, this can avoid potential problems with exogenous genes (or other DNA) being integrated into the host cell genome.
The Schlich firm is handling a series of patent applications around the world, and co-ordinating the prosecution strategy. We are assisting Roslin Tech to develop the business and commercial aspects, including the growth of the porcine cells into suitable cells using laboratory techniques into cells that can be used for cultivated meat. The business model is to grow the appropriate cells in the laboratory, using the appropriate production technology, and then transport the resulting cells to other laboratories or cultivated meat production producers, so that the final meat products can be made and processed into a final product ready for sale to food manufacturers.
Cultivated meat is meat grown directly from animal cells without the need to raise animals. Cultivated meat offers the promise to improve animal welfare, lower antibiotics use, and reduce the environmental footprint of meat production. The cultivated meat sector is rapidly growing with over 100 companies active today and with billions of dollars of investment coming in. To deliver on the promise, cultivated meat needs to deliver a great sensory experience and production cost needs to come down. High quality cell lines are needed to make cultivated meat safe, affordable, and nutritious.
Schlich looks forward to continuing to work with Roslin Tech on their future innovations.