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Near-instant detection of live stem cells

The Biomarker Gliostem® will help neurosurgeons distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue during brain tumor surgery


Celluminova specializes in developing new tools for stem cell research, including cancer stem cells. The patented biomarker GlioStem is intended for the detection and visualization of stem cell-like cells in brain tumors. Today, there are no products on the market that target stem cell-like cells in these tumors. The goal for GlioStem is to be used during surgery to completely remove tumor tissue and thereby lead to increased patient survival and quality of life.

Market need and potential

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most malignant primary brain tumor with an annual incidence of around 3 in 100 000. The tumors are often found in a late stage of the disease and untreated patients have a median survival of only 3 months. One of the most important prognostic factors is the number of remaining tumors after the operation. The predominant treatment is surgery supplemented by radiation and chemotherapy. This does not cure cancer but prolongs the median survival time to approximately 14 months from diagnosis. Emerging research suggests that failure to target glioma stem cells (GCSs), which are stem cell-like cells found in GBM tumors, rather than the inability to remove tumors through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, explains the poor survival of GBM patients. Hence, there is a need for better methods for precise removal of GSCs with minimum damage to healthy tissue to improve GBM prognosis and quality of life of operated patients.

Business idea

We aim at supplying means for fluorescence-assisted surgery with near-instant feedback from live microscopy observations of GSCs, facilitating more accurate resections of the tumor-initiating tissue. To date, Celluminova has launched a laboratory kit with GlioStem for research purposes. The launch of a second product, GlioStem Pathology, for post-surgery or post-mortem analysis of resected tissue in a fluorescence microscope is planned for 2021. This product is intended for improved GBM diagnostics and prognostics by the added information about the GSC contents in resected tissue. Our next product, GlioStem Bedside, is developed for real-time feedback to the surgeon from imaging of resected tissue.


There is a lack of efficient techniques for the detection and distinction of aggressive gliomas. In particular, biomarkers with specificity for the detrimental GSCs are completely lacking on the market, providing uniqueness for the GlioStem concept.


Celluminova’s core technology is centered around the molecular luminescent biomarker GlioStem, which, unlike existing methods, is indicative of GSCs. GlioStem is an oligothiophene derivative sprung from research at Karolinska Institutet (KI) and Linköping University (LiU), which can penetrate physiological cell membranes and selectively bind to structures inside the GSCs. GlioStem is conveniently administered onto the investigated tissue or cell culture by a pipette. After only a few minutes, the GSCs will emit green light from GlioStem molecules under blue illumination (image).

Current Status

Celluminova is taking GlioStem to the next product development stage and into the clinic. Our main goal is to establish the first-ever surgery-assisted method that directly targets the quiescent GSCs in malignant brain tumors.


Verified & Funded BIO-XCelluminova AB is one of 4 companies that has been verified and granted funding through STUNS Life science call for proposal process BIO-X Accelerate 2020.

BIO-X Accelerate is a structured way of working with calls for proposals and sustainable business development, in accordance with the BIO-X®Methodology. Through the BIO-X Accelerate call, companies are evaluated by external experts from relevant fields and selected in high competition. Granted companies receive funding, continued business development support, and access to experts within the BIO-X network.

SPEED OF LIFE– Building a strong and sustainable Life science sector – together is a podcast initiated through BIO-X Accelerate. A project run by STUNS Life science with the goal of promoting sustainable growth of the Life science industry in East Middle Sweden. The project is funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Region Uppsala and, STUNS Life Science.

Founded: 2010
Founder: Tommy Waszkiewicz, Shirin Ilkhanizadeh, Ola Hermansson, Peter Nilsson
Majority owner: Tommy Waszkiewicz, OBOE IPR, Almi Invest
Employees: 2 employees, 8 consultants
Revenue: 0 (2020)
Goal: To have our products used in clinical labs and surgery rooms around the world, facilitating discoveries in life science and improving clinical outcomes.

GlioStem is patented in 20 countries and the patent family has priority until 2031.

Our mission: To develop new tools for visualization and isolation of stem cells and cancer stem cells in developing organisms and tumors.


Shirin Ilkhanizadeh CEO and Christina Neofytou, Collaborating Research Specialist


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