Week 25 – Expanding Our Horizons
Hope everyone is doing well and is safe and healthy. I cannot believe that we are already almost halfway through the year. Where has that time gone? Being the eternal optimist, we are getting closer to the end of 2020. I am sure a lot of people reading this blog are looking forward to getting through this year with all that has gone on in the world. We are fortunate to be in the position that we are in. So many others have not been so lucky. We have not taken this for granted and continue to maintain focus on moving the company forward.
This week, we recorded our first webcast that will be released within the next 2-3 weeks (stay tuned for the release date). We decided that our first webcast should focus on a topic we’ve been working on for some time, hemodialysis access. For those who have not made a webcast, I came to realize that there are several areas you need to tackle in preparation for such an undertaking like preparing a list of questions to ask participants, pull together a good group of people for the discussion, get everyone onto the video conferencing site and try to make sure everyone in comfortable with the medium. Generating questions is fairly easy. We gathered experts in access surgery (Dr. Yael Vin), interventional nephrology (Dr. Nikhil Agrawal, doctor who fixes access) and research (Dr. Mauricio Contreras) to discuss this important topic. Getting everyone onto the video conference call and making everyone comfortable (including myself) was a challenge. Overall, the process went fairly smooth for our first time (minus me not pressing record until half way through – lucky for me our marketing team member was also recording). We now have some editing to do before releasing the final webcast. However, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. This week we learned that our Phase II KidneyX application that was focused on continuing development of our drug-loaded NuSpun® Vascular Graft, while receiving an honorable mention, was not selected for funding. This puts a huge speed bump in developing this technology. That being said, we have chosen to focus on the positive. We strongly believe in this technology and will try to move it forward no matter how long it takes because we believe it will help patients. We continue to perform research on this device with the hopes that investors/private equity/foundations/etc. will see the value in this work like we do.
As you know from my past postings, I am a big Seinfeld fan. For those of you that followed the show, the lead character Jerry was known to be even-steven in that if one thing went bad, a good thing would happen to balance it out. That was somewhat us this week. While the KidneyX news was disheartening, we did receive positive news from our collaborators at the National Institutes of Health. We have been developing cell culture plates that contain our Bio-Spun™ materials that are being used to investigate retinal disease. We were pleased to learn that we received another contract to use our technology to grow cells related to COVID-19. We also received some additional good news in that we came to terms with a significant player in this space. We are hoping to have an official press release in the next few weeks so stay tuned for more information. On the development side, we continue to make progress on applying different Bio-Spun™ materials onto these 96-well Transwell plates with the goal of being able to provide different material options for the NIH and for outside customers who will want to purchase these cell culture plates. In the next few months, we will be offering a free sample of these plates to those who would like to evaluate this technology. You can reach out to us in the interim at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We continue to work with our partners at Takeda to evaluate different applications for our technology. When we first started down this path in 2017 (we completed our third year of this R&D program on June 14th), our goal was to target three specific areas. If we developed one device and brought it through preclinical assessment, that would have been considered a big success. At the completion of the program, we developed three different devices that underwent preclinical testing – a HUGE success. As we have begun to present our findings, other groups within Takeda are beginning to see how our technology could have applications in their research. We are excited about the possibility of Takeda deciding to move our most advanced technology, our Bio-Spun™ fistula plug, through commercialization. Time will tell what the outcome will be but our teams are working hard to make this happen. Another area to stay tuned for. More research programs will be described in the upcoming weeks.
Continue to stay vigilant and keep social distancing, wear a mask where social distancing is not possible to protect yourself and those around you and frequently wash your hands. Also, continue to support your local businesses as they continue to try to work through these challenging times.
Please stay safe and have a great weekend!