3 PhD students from King’s College London wins the $100,000 Stem Cell SpaceShot grant

3 PhD students from King’s College London win the $100,000 Stem Cell SpaceShot grant


Bordeaux, France, Cambridge (MA), USA / October 20th, 2022 – TreeFrog Therapeutics, a biotechnology company aimed at making safer, more efficient and more affordable cell therapies based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), today announced that an international team composed of 3 PhD students from King’s College London has been awarded the Stem Cell SpaceShot grant. With this $100,000 research funding, Matthew Wai Heng CHUNG, Cher Shen KIAR & Sofia SYNTAKA will explore the reprogramming of stem cell-derived macrophages, with the aim of repairing neuronal damage, such as spinal cord injury.

The awarded scientists went through a 2-step application process. First, they anonymously submitted a 1 page-research description. Then, nominated  together with 9 other projects, they were interviewed by an international jury of experts in stem cell biology, gene editing and biophysics, who determined the winner.


Interview of Prof. Peter Andrews, Jury Member

“All nominees presented interesting and diverse ideas. But I am very happy to have a young group of PhD students, very cohesive and creative, to win this grant. The grant designed by TreeFrog is meant to encourage international investigators to explore innovative and high risks ideas. If I were to give any advice to next year’s applicants, I’d recommend thinking outside the box and putting forward high-risk high-reward projects.”

Emeritus Prof. Peter Andrews, Sheffield University, UK, Jury Member of the Stem Cell SpaceShot Grant

Interview of the 2022 Winners of the Stem Cell SpaceShot Grant

“We were excited by the grant from the very start, because of its focus on innovative ideas, and because of the anonymous application format, which is fair for young researchers like us. Now, we’re so happy and grateful to embark on this journey. Having our project validated by the jury gives us the confidence to move forward with this project.”
Matthew Wai Heng CHUNG, Cher Shen KIAR & Sofia SYNTAKA, Winner of the 2022 Stem Cell SpaceShot Grant.

“Awarding a group is something that we did not anticipate when we created the grant. In the end, I am very happy with the decision of the jury, and proud to support a project led by 3 young international scientists, which addresses a hot topic in the regenerative medicine space. I look forward to following their progress, and encourage all scientists that applied this year to re-submit in 2023.”
Maxime Feyeux, PhD, co-founder and chief scientific officer of TreeFrog Therapeutics

About the Awarded Project

Neuronal damage including spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury has affected 27 million and 55 million people respectively in 2016. Despite its significant unmet clinical need, neuronal repair remains a major challenge. We propose hiPSC-derived enhanced macrophages as a unique solution for neuronal replacement therapy, by integrating (1) synthetic immuno-modulatory gene circuits and (2) cell fate engineering to generate functional neurons. Our regenerative medicine focuses on the often-overlooked interplay between immunology, cell integration, and tissue repair, to deliver better motion, senses, and health for our patients.

About the jury of the Stem Cell SpaceShot Grant

Bringing together world-class experts in stem cell biology, gene editing and biophysics, the interdisciplinary jury is composed of :

  • Emeritus Prof. Peter ANDREWS, University of Sheffield, UK – Stem cell genomic integrity
  • L. MAHADEVAN, Harvard University, USA – Biophysics
  • Marta SHAHBAZI, PhD, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK – Developmental Biology
  • Justin EYQUEM, PhD, University of California San Francisco, USA – Gene Editing
  • Shin KAWAMATA, MD, PhD, R&D Center for Cell Therapy, FBRI, Kobe, Japan – Cell Therapy Manufacturing & Quality Control

About TreeFrog Therapeutics

TreeFrog Therapeutics is a French-based biotech company aiming to unlock access to cell therapies for millions of patients. TreeFrog Therapeutics is developing a pipeline of therapeutic candidates using proprietary C-StemTM technology, allowing for the mass production of induced pluripotent stem cells and their differentiation into ready-to-transplant microtissues with unprecedented scalability and cell quality. Bringing together over 80 biophysicists, cell biologists and bioproduction engineers, TreeFrog Therapeutics raised $82M over the past 3 years to advance its pipeline of stem cell-based therapies in the field of neurodegeneration, cardio-metabolic disorders, and immuno-oncology. In 2022, the company is opening technological hubs in Boston, USA, and Kobe, Japan, to drive the adoption of C-StemTM and initiate co-development partnerships with leading academic, biotech and industry players in the field of cell therapy.


Media Contact

Pierre-Emmanuel Gaultier
TreeFrog Therapeutics
+ 33 6 45 77 42 58