Hope everyone is doing well and is safe and healthy. This week saw a lot of different areas being tackled at the company. We were excited to release our first webcast this past Wednesday. Evaluating the website analytics, we saw a significant increase in people visiting on the release day to view the webcast. Thanks to those who viewed it! Our goal with these monthly webcasts is to bring you more detailed information about a topic, from devices we are developing to tackle a specific disease/complication to providing more in-depth information about an aspect of our technology or process we are using. We look to give you a complete perspective of a topic from experts in the various areas, but in a format that is conversational and easier to understand. Our next webcast which should be released in mid-August will focus on perianal fistulas, a significant complication of gastrointestinal disease. Similar to our first webcast, we will look to provide a full picture of the complication from what causes perianal fistulas and how they are treated to what BioSurfaces and Takeda are doing to provide a solution to treat perianal fistulas. Stay tuned!
From producing and releasing our first webcast, we also achieved another couple of firsts this week. We began testing of our internally-developed GMP manufacturing electrospinning unit. This state-of-the-art unit will be used to manufacture large sheets
of our Bio-Spun™ materials that will be applied onto cell culture insert plates that we will be making for investigators at the National Institutes of Health as well as other potential customers who are interested in using this type of diagnostic tool. There is nothing more rewarding than watching the team gather around the new unit as it begins go through its paces. The excitement in the room as testing begins is palpable along with the nerves of watching the engineers as the process moves forward. As a small company, we are able to really appreciate these types of events. While our goal is to grow the company, I hope that we never lose this type of excitement when events like these happen. We will likely have many, many more of these eventful moments so we need to ensure that we continue this tradition. While it is just a few minutes of being together (with masks and social distancing, of course), this simple event carries positive vibes that last a long time. Tina and I could not be prouder of our team!
On the research side, we incorporated a drug used to treat inflammation into our electrospun materials for the first time. The rationale for performing this exploratory study is that the body’s cells can grow uncontrollably within a medical device. There are several approved drugs that control growth of the body’s cells, but many of these drugs have off-target adverse effects such as attacking “normal” cells as well. The way to imagine this is when chemotherapy agents are used to treat cancer. While these agents destroy the cancer cells, they also destroy normal cells in the body. This is evident in patients undergoing chemotherapy when they lose their hair. We have been looking at this type of targeted drug delivery for our NuSpun® Vascular Graft using the immunosuppression drug Sirolimus, work that was funded through KidneyX. While we continue this work, we are also seeking other drug alternatives that reduce adverse events. We are just getting underway with this work and are hopeful that we may be able to collaborate with investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who are also working in this space.
Another area we started to discuss with collaborators at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is combining our Bio-Spun™ technology with some really cool tech that involves plants. Yes, you correctly read that and it was not a typo. WPI investigators have developed a process to remove the plant cells from a leaf or stem such as from a spinach leaf. This leaves behind a tubular network that could serve to deliver blood and nutrients to cells, similar to the way the body uses arteries and veins. For a nice video demonstrating how this works, please visit https://youtu.be/6iUrxGo9gZs. In our initial studies, we will be applying our electrospinning technology onto a decellularized spinach leaf (“skinach”) from WPI. This device will be used like a bioactive “band-aid” to repair a defect in the skin. Our electrospun material will deliver drugs to prevent infection and reduce pain which the skinach provides a scaffold for the body’s cells to grow into to heal the wound. The advantage of using a plant is that there are so many options to chose from such as different sized defects can be treated. We are just getting underway and are excited to see where this goes. A lot of firsts this week to be sure!
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. While it may feel that we can relax now that it is summer, please understand that the coronavirus does not take vacation time. Even at the beach when walking around when social distancing is not possible, masks should still be used until a safe distance can be achieved. Continue to support your local businesses as they continue to try to work through these challenging times. They are continuing to move forward through these tough times using their creative spirit!