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Week 5 – Come and Gone

Hope everyone had a great week! Cannot believe we are at the end of January already and bringing on February this weekend. Most of this week for me has focused on writing, so much so that I wasn’t sure I would have enough left in me to write the blog. As I get older (I will preface this by saying I’m not over the hill yet), writing grants and reports mentally takes a lot more out of me since there is so much that you have to keep track of in order to provide an accurate picture as to what the team has accomplished and what is still left to do. Still, I always keep it in perspective that what we do is nowhere near as tasking as what other people do every day. I am very conscientious and appreciative of this fact so this is not meant to be a complaint. Just a statement of fact. I am sure many of my more senior followers can relate to this.

I was glad to be able to spend some quality time in the lab this past weekend, knowing that this week would be spent analyzing data and writing our Phase II KidneyX proposal. That really rejuvenates me. It is quiet so you don’t have the typical questions and interruptions that occur during a normal day. I am so fortunate to have a job that feels like a hobby. I have not lost that feeling no matter how the business is doing. I am truly one of the lucky ones. One of the areas I was working on was looking at electrospinning a hydrophilic (water-liking) polyurethane polymer that we received from AdvanSource Biomaterials (thanks for the sample!). This polymer is usually used as a coating on other devices but I wanted to see if it could be a stand-alone material. After a couple of unexpected outcomes and some rethinking of the process, I was able to form the first sheet of the material shown in the picture. I am envisioning using this material in a few areas that we are currently involved with along with some new areas for potential partners that we are just starting to chat with. For this electrospin, I went old school and went back to our second electrospinning unit. While it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the current unit, it still works well. At the same time I was making this material, I was using our main R&D electrospinning unit to make an electrospun material with a drug that prevents blood from clotting. The place was rocking with dual electrospinning units! I am glad Tina still cares enough to check in with me to make sure I am not doing something foolish. Lots of good stuff that we’ll be testing in the next few weeks.

Our team continues to plow forward on several fronts. Years ago, when it was just me, the lab would go quiet when I was writing because I needed to focus on one thing at a time. That is not the case anymore which I really enjoy. The manufacturing team spent a good portion of the week focused on two main areas; modifying our R&D electrospinning unit to make the unit easier to service and continued development on our NIH program. For the R&D unit, this was a big undertaking to change the mechanism that moves the needle. I am always impressed by the engineering mind that they can visualize a new part for the electrospinning machine and then build it. The team also continuing to develop the process for putting our electrospun material onto a 96 well plate. This involves using “Pico”, our robot that dispenses adhesive, along with developing a process that can eventually be fully automated to put the material onto the plate after the glue is dispensed. This development process has the R&D team making electrospun materials for these trial runs. A full team effort!

On the R&D side, we continue development of our cell chambers for Takeda along with our fistula plug materials. As we continue the preclinical studies, we continue to tweak device design and making/evaluating the different surfaces we are developing. We have generated positive data which I am looking forward to sharing with you when it is allowed. We also continue to make progress on the KidneyX program. As you know from our previous blogs, we have begun to ramp up our ability to evaluate materials using the body’s cells (tissue culture). For KidneyX, we are developing a version of our NuSpun™ Vascular Graft that delivers a drug that prevents the body’s cells from overgrowing. This requires us to monitor how the drug is releasing over time and how this drug affects the body’s cells. A team effort keeps all of these studies moving along.

I am excited about all of the areas we are working on and about the future possibilities that are being discussed with outside groups. We’ll keep plowing forward!

Have a great weekend! Welcome to February!



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