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Week 20 – I’m Back, Baby!

As you know, one of my favorite shows is Seinfeld so again the title pays homage to a quote from George Costanza. Cannot believe that two weeks have passed by so fast! Did you miss us? I know I missed providing you our weekly update. It has become part of my normal routine. I hope all has been well during this time apart. It is not that things have not been progressing over this time period. On the contrary, the company continued to gain momentum heading into the fall season with some significant news released this week. I’ll touch on that in a minute.

Our family took our first “long” vacation in a quite a while. We all headed to Italy. It was awesome to have everyone together. For those of you with older children, you know that getting everyone together for any stretch of time is hard to do so Tina and I were thrilled to have this opportunity. What I mean by “long” is taking more than one week off in a row. For me, that’s a big deal. The last time Tina and I did this was 4 years ago when our son graduated high school. You might be thinking that we are nuts for not taking more time. As a small business owner, it is hard to leave your “baby,” especially at times when there were not a lot of people that could cover what you do at the company. When Tina and I left 4 years ago, that was over 50% of the company not being there. We are fortunate at this time in the company that we have such a great team that can cover for us when we are gone. I can’t express to them how they made my vacation more enjoyable by them being so dependable and excellent at what they do that I didn’t need to bring my work to Italy (well, nowhere near as much anyway).

If you are a scientist, it never leaves you even when you are in Italy. I have a lot of awesome pictures of the country. One of great places we visited was Pompeii. For those not familiar, it is a city that is over 2,000 years old and was buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius unexpectedly erupted in 79 AD. What I was blown away with is how this civilization was so advanced. The picture I am showing is of an ancient pharmacy, as indicated by the snake image on the outside of the building, an image that is still associated with pharmacies today. Without being able to read, you could tell where you needed to go if you were sick. That these people knew that taking care of its people with medicine was so fascinating. I won’t tell you what building was located right next it. If you want to know, send me a social media message to find out. That was another story!

Seeing this advanced civilization reminded me that we have a lot to live up to in order to keep advancing our society. While I was in Sorrento (prior to coming to Pompeii), we received word that we were awarded a contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As I opened this email, fireworks erupted over the harbor of Sorrento (this is a true story - what a great coincidence!). To simplify what this means, we will be making our electrospun materials and placing them onto little test chambers. NIH investigators will use these chambers to grow retinal (eye) tissue so that they can test different drugs to cure various diseases affecting the eye. Really cool stuff! We have been working with them since 2016 so being able to advance this work is great. It also provides the company an opportunity to produce a product outside of the medical device space.

Our NuSpun™ Vascular Graft also continues to progress. Dr. Yael Vin of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center presented data at the 2019 New England Society for Vascular Surgery on September 13th. It was the coming out party for the technology, giving a first glimpse to the surgeons who may be implanting our graft someday. We are so blessed to have great support from Yael and Dr. Mauricio Contreras, who is directing our preclinical study. It is a ton of work and we appreciate all Yael and Mauricio do. Speaking of the preclinical study, we are near completing all graft implants. We will then need to wait to see how the results look (I’m so impatient but nothing I can do but wait). We continue to produce grafts on our manufacturing unit and develop test apparatus. Progress continues on many fronts. On the business front, Dr. Gordon Wong presented our technology to investors at the Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Conference, which generated interest that we are currently following up on. We also continue to meet with potential strategic partners to advance the technology.

We are excited about the progress we are making. It truly takes a village! Next week, I will talk about what the progress we are making with Takeda.

Have a great weekend!


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