Cell therapy holds tremendous promise for treating cancer, injuries, and a host of illnesses, but there are a few practical barriers that make it trickier than typical medical treatments. As the name suggests, cell therapy involves putting living cells into a patient to help overcome a disease or condition. “What’s complicated is the supply chain for those cells is much different than it is for a medical device or a drug,” says Allison Hubel, founder of BlueCube Bio. As therapeutic cells pass from the lab to the hospital to the patient, the cells have to remain alive. Founded in April 2020, BlueCube Bio manufactures products that keep therapeutic cells alive by cryopreservation (i.e., freezing them). The startup, which operates out of an incubator space at the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute, took home the top prize in the MN Cup startup competition in September. As of early January, BlueCube was still pre-revenue, but given the demand for its products, Hubel anticipates a “short runway” to ongoing revenue streams.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of market pull—almost too much—and it’s easy to get distracted. It’s really important to maintain focus and ask yourself, ‘Does this need to happen now?’ and really leave time for mission-critical tasks.”