Starfish Innovations

About Starfish Innovations

Starfish Innovations brings new medicines closer to the patient by commercialising innovative regenerative medicine therapies, diagnostics and technologies from leading European universities, Institutes and other partners to accelerate breakthroughs in regenerative medicine across a broad range of diseases.

Company Profile

Year of establishment


HQ location

PO Box 9600
2300 RC Leiden
The Netherlands

Founded in 2016 by the Leiden University Medical Centre, Starfish Innovations has attracted funding to support the commercialisation of its existing pipeline of regenerative medicine technologies.
Starfish Innovations works with academic projects from the earliest stages, with proprietary access to intellectual property developed at Leiden University Medical Centre and strong networks throughout Europe, connecting scientific innovation in regenerative medicine to capital in order to maximise societal and commercial potential.
Alongside the development of a pipeline of regenerative therapies, Starfish Innovations provides access to its research expertise and world-class cGMP facilities through collaborations with partners worldwide.
Led by a passionate scientific and medical team with strong academic research backgrounds and a deep-understanding of regenerative medicine, combined with excellent cGMP facilities for the manufacture of cell therapy and tissue engineering products, Starfish Innovations is progressing new therapies to address major diseases affecting an aging population including diabetes, heart disease and organ failure.

Products and Services

Our portfolio consists of the following projects:

Gene Therapy for X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA)

X-linked agammaglobulinemia most common primary immunodeficiency in man and caused by mutations in the BTK gene. XLA is characterized by a B-cell differentiation arrest and recurrent bacterial infections that can be fatal. The aim of this project is to develop a lentiviral gene therapy to correct the BTK gene, as potentially curative treatment for XLA.

AAV Stealth switch for applications in gene therapy

With the remarkable progress towards realizing gene therapies, there has become an urgent need to regulate the expression of the therapeutic gene. In this project “stealth” technology will be used to construct a set of novel AAV vectors that can be switched “on” and “off”, setting a critical step toward a clinically applicable regulatable viral vector system.

Establishment of a clinical grade human iPS cell line

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have moved beyond research into application in clinical trials. However, only a limited number of clinical grade hiPSC lines are available. The aim of this project is to generate a clinical grade safe iPSC line under GMP-compliant conditions, including tissue sourcing, manufacturing, testing and storage, as starting point for new internal and externally developed cell therapies.

BK-virus test for kidney transplantation patients

This project aims to establish a test, which can predict if kidney transplantation patients are at risk of infection with BK-virus. Currently it is impossible to predict which patients will suffer from this infection, which ultimately may lead to kidney failure. In this project user perspectives of a BK-test, as well as production and validity of the test.

Stabilizing microvessels

Vascularization plays a key role in iPSC-derived organoids and in blood vessel diseases like Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). Thalidomide is a molecule that is shown to stimulate vascular stabilization. The aim of this project is to develop thalidomide-based compounds and establish preclinical proof of concept for treatment of HHT.

Limiting post-transplantation kidney loss

Immunosuppression following kidney transplantation leads to an increase in BK virus activity, causing kidney damage and loss. A novel RNA-targeting therapy has been developed that homes to the kidney, and inhibits BK virus activity. Among others, in this project a novel in vivo BK virus-inhibiting model has been developed to screen and optimize antisense oligonucleotide candidates. The LUMC spin-out company Hybridize Pharma has been founded to advance the development of this highly promising therapy.

Gene Therapy for hereditary blindness

Hereditary retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a rare genetic disease of the eye, which causes vision loss in 1 in 4,000 people, due to mutations in the CRB1 gene. An AAV-based gene therapy is being developed for the treatment of RP. This project aims to conduct gate keeper experiments in preparation to advance to Phase IIa clinical studies.

Reversibly Immortalizable Cardiomyocytes

Immortalized cardiomyocytes are a key research tool for drug screening. A highly efficient technique for cardiomyocyte production has been developed, allowing customers to generate their own immortalized cardiomyocytes. This project aims to scale-up and validate rat cardiomyocyte line production, as well as expand to other cell types.

Counterparts we would like to meet

Biotech companies, pharma, research institutions and public organisations active in the regenerative medicine space


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Starfish Innovations

Nicky Vogels

Business Developer