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Week 22 – When Worlds Collide

For an avid Patriot’s fan like me, having a Thursday night game is a blessing and curse. The blessing is that it frees up Sunday to do other things and the curse is trying to focus on providing an update for the week while watching the game. So, if I get off track, I hope you will understand and cut me a little break. Watching the Pats is one of my guilty pleasures. In reality, watching football in general is something I really enjoy. It is fun watching how they set the strategy for the game, execute the game plan and make adjustments on the fly when things are not going according to plan. Our company seems to follow the same type of pathway, regardless of whether it’s the science and/or business aspect.

This week actually started this past Saturday as we spoke with a potential investor who was interested in learning about our NuSpun™ Vascular Graft technology. Prior to the call, the team had a conference call to form a strategy, set an agenda, review the pitch and discuss potential scenarios. We executed the plan as discussed, presenting the technology as we planned. There were some good questions asked by the potential investor which we were able to address, even though these questions were not specifically discussed by the group in the pre-meeting. You can never fully predict what questions will be asked so being able to adjust on the fly is important. We’ll see where this meeting goes, but we are early in the process. We are looking forward to the challenge of raising funds to move the technology forward and know we have our work cut out for us.

Sometimes it is pivoting from one area to another and working as a team to make sure all aspects of the work are getting done. As I mentioned in previous blogs, we have been extremely busy with our preclinical assessment of the NuSpun™ Vascular Graft. This program requires a full team effort because we are generating a lot of data and need to cover all of the different tests that are being done. I sound like a broken record but I am always impressed by the team we have. No one ever questions what needs to be done. Everyone just steps up and there is no better feeling for Tina and me about how professional they are. Another example of needing to be flexible is a late-scheduled meeting with our partners at Takeda, who have been a great group to work with so it is important to accommodate them. This required us to shuffle a few things around, but we were able to pivot without too much trouble. Lastly, we are looking to prepare our company to incorporate the ability to manufacture our graft and other electrospun materials in a pilot manufacturing section of our current facility. Pilot manufacturing, for those of you not familiar with this, is a dedicated space that is isolated from other parts of the lab by partitions that has specific types of benches and equipment to keep the resulting electrospun material produced physically clean. This has required a lot of planning and preparing as well and the need to have all hands-on deck to physically make changes to the space necessary to create this space.

On the research side, strategy, execution and ability to adapt are also important. We are constantly meeting to plan experiments for the week ahead and executing on that plan. We are a small company and have many ongoing programs so strategy and planning are critical to being successful. What most people do not understand is that a majority of the research performed results in negative findings (i.e. doesn’t work). Imagine going to your job and over 90% of the things you do in your day doesn’t work. Television makes scientist look like there is a discovery every time you go into the lab, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This job takes perseverance and the ability to adapt to changes. This week saw us modifying our cell chamber for Takeda, making materials for different customers and advancing our drug-loaded graft for KidneyX. Each one of these programs this week alone required changes/modifications to make the desired outcome, with more to come.

On a side note, we are excited to welcome Dr. Patrick Hayden to the team. Over the past 16 years, the company has been involved with examining at the benchtop and in preclinical testing how cells interact with our electrospun materials. The goal is to better understand how our devices will react within the body prior to putting them into the body. Patrick’s expertise, which is in growing and evaluating different cells in the body, will be charged with looking at these interactions and also how localized drug released from our drug-loaded electrospun devices affect cells in the immediate area of the implant. We will be able to compare this benchtop data with preclinical results to see if we can better predict device outcomes. Great to have him as part of the team!

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not extend my beautiful wife Tina a very happy early (10/14) birthday! As I have mentioned in the past, I am fortunate to be able to see her every day and spend time with her. She makes the company run smoothly (although she is killing everyone with the snacks she brings in) and helps to keep me in line (and that’s no easy task). Could not do what I do without her and I love her very much!

Have a great weekend!


P.S. – Another win for the Pats! Wasn’t pretty but we’ll take it.

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