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Our History

Inception and Start Up (2008−2010)

While working at Flagship Venture-funded Ensemble Therapeutics between 2004 and 2008, Yumei realized that it is almost impossible to find a service company to prepare high-quality bioconjugates. Many of the bioconjugates that were outsourced either do not work or work very poorly in biological assays. Though her main role at Ensemble was core technology development, she was frequently asked to help biologists prepare bioconjugates for their assays. At that time, Yumei was interested in continuing some of her unfinished work from MIT in developing novel photo-crosslinking reagents for studying membrane proteins.

In Oct. 2008, Yumei registered a company named for the fluid mosaic model of the cell membrane (CellMosaic). She hoped to use bioconjugation services as a means to support the company. In Dec. 2008, she established a laboratory at Gateway Park (Worcester) of the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative (MBI), the longest-running life sciences incubator in Massachusetts. In Feb. 2009, Yumei became self-employed, launched a website, and started an active business. Her first order was $9,300 from Professor Darry J. Pappin’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to prepare a unique mass tagging reagent. A friend of Yumei’s, Prof. Pappin sent the order the minute Yumei has a lab open because he had been unable to find another company to make this compound. Same year, after her colleague’s referral, Frank Guarnieri, CSO of start-up PAKA Pulmonary Pharmaceuticals visited Yumei’s 200 sq. ft. lab and decided to send in an order for a novel peptide-drug conjugate despite the company’s limited resources. Previously, Frank had used a similar conjugate outsourced from another company that could only label the peptide at the N-terminus. Yumei redesigned the conjugate and was able to make the conjugate at the C-terminus with a 10x increase in binding affinity. The bioconjugate was made and analyzed at CellMosaic, including the peptide synthesis.

On Nov. 30, 2010, CellMosaic was voted one of “Five startups to watch” in New England by Mass. High. Tech.

In Mar. 2011, she hired the first employee, and added an additional 1,600 sq. ft. facility.

As the company started to operate, Yumei quickly realized that bioconjugation itself is the future of the life sciences industry and shifted her focus from membrane proteins to bioconjugation.

Technology Development (2011−2016)

In Jan. 2011, Sytarga started to inquire about CellMosaic’s capability to produce multiple ducarmycin ADC products with high loading. Syntarga was founded in 2002 as a spin-off from Radbound University in Nijmegen. The order did not materialize after Sytarga was sold to Synthon within a few months. At the same time, an attempt was being made by Yumei to come up with a class of novel super-hydrophilic linkers and crosslinking systems for bioconjugation. She immediately realized that the high loading ADC with ducarmycin could only be achieved using hydrophilic linkers. She finalized the design of these hydrophilic linkers and linking chemistry based on sugar alcohol molecules and filed the PCT for AqT® technologies on July 19, 2012. Yumei had the idea to develop a large library of linkers, like amino acids and oligos, not just one or two linkers. The reasons for using sugar alcohols were their super hydrophilic nature and biocompatibility. The availability of various sugar alcohols can make obtaining a linker library very easy. Surprisingly, no one had yet stepped into this space, perhaps due to the inherent difficulties in modifying and derivatizing these molecules for usage.

Two months later, the NIGMS/NIH awarded CellMosaic a Phase I SBIR grant to develop oxLink™ and sxLink™ technologies based on some of Yumei’s previous work in labeling, crosslinking, and detection of GPCRs at MIT. This is a solicited 2009 NIH challenge grant in Health and Science Research. Yumei applied in 2009 and 2011, and eventually the grant was awarded in 2012.

That prompted Yumei to apply for the competitive DoD Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Breakthrough Award grant to fund part of the AqT® platform technologies. Among 372 Level 1 applications received worldwide, CellMosaic was the only for-profit company among the 15 applicants recommended for funding for Fiscal Year 2014.

In Dec. 2015, CellMosaic relocated from MBI incubator labs to Cummings Properties in Woburn, MA.

In Apr. 2016, CellMosaic received the 2015 Joseph R. Carter Innovation Award from MBI and MassBio.

Product and Services Development (2017−present)

In late 2016, CellMosaic decided to launch a product line called PerKit™ for customers to use in-house to produce high-quality bioconjugates. An initial hesitancy to develop such kits was due to unsuccessful stories from other preparation kit development companies. However, lessons were learned from them and the kits CellMosaic developed were ensured to be user-friendly and to work. The first such kit, PerKit™ HRP-Oligo Conjugation Kit, was launched on Jan. 18, 2017. A total of 78 reaction kits were sold to Cue Inc. alone in 2017.

On May 12, 2017, CellMosaic launched the first standard reagent curcumin-beta-D-glucuronide based on a customer’s request.

On Dec. 29, 2017, PerKit™ was expanded to ADC kits. A total of 58 reaction kits were sold in 2018.

On Mar. 24, 2021, CellMosaic expands the reagent/kits to the AqT® product line. the first AqT® kit (AqT® Biotin Active Ester Antibody Labeling Kit (T2A15)) was launched.

On Sept. 1, 2023, CellMosaic started a routine conjugation service for medium and large-scale ADC synthesis to simplify and implement a web-based ordering process for custom bioconjugation services.