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Week 5 – Power of Observation

Week 5 – Power of Observation

Hope all is going well.  I am a true believer that there are signs all around us and sometimes you just have to take time to look around to recognize them.  Some people refer to it as divine intervention and others refer to it as the universe speaking.  Whatever your preference, I do believe they are there to help guide or shape us.  Cam and I went on a Guys Night Out (or what we call GNO) and decided to see a movie.  Neither of us knew much about the movie “Sight” that we were about to see (some pun intended).  At a high level (since I do not want to give away the story – my mother used to do that all the time which drove me crazy), it is based on a true story about eye surgeon Dr. Ming Wang.  The movie provides background about his childhood, how he came to the United States from China and his work looking to restore eyesight in patients.  Throughout his life, there were signs that Dr. Wang was going to be involved in helping people in some way.  His passion for life and applying the lessons of the world around him helped guide his mission.

It was interesting to learn about the main issues that Dr. Wang was dealing with were scarring (fibrosis) and lack of healing both from the damaged tissue as well as from the materials that they were using to help provide sight.  You have heard us describe in various blogs or Monthly spin (shameless plug – new one coming next month) that these two key factors have been the downfall to many devices, from complications to outright failure.  These issues are one of the reasons that Tina and I started BioSurfaces.  We kept seeing failure of artificial arteries and wanted to change the way the body was reacting to them.  Even though we had a belief in what the technology could do, we fully didn’t realize its potential until we started to expand into multiple areas.  Adding positive data from companies and investigators outside of BioSurfaces solidifies this belief.  Our Bio-Spun™ scaffold has shown excellent healing while having minimal fibrosis when implanted.  This technology can be further customized through potential addition of drugs during scaffold production, providing the next generation of products.

Many of the discoveries that have come out of BioSurfaces (or at different points in my career) have come from observations.  This is similar to Dr. Wang and his discovery that placenta tissue would make a lens that would heal better since it would not scar (you will have to see the movie to understand why he thought of this).  I remember one of my first patents was related to creating chemical groups within polyester (PET) textile fibers.  We were running a study and added a chemical to the PET.  We expected that this chemical would not react with PET and considered this as control in the study (meaning that it would be viewed as material with no changes).  We noticed that there was a slight yellowing after exposure and realized that in fact that there was a change.  After investigating further, we were able to create chemical groups that don’t exist on PET materials, providing researchers will a material that was more wettable and could be used to provide new functionality for surface modification.  A simple observation led to this discovery. 

This type of discovery has occurred for other applications discovered by the company.  The concept of electrospinning (which we did not discover) was explored after attending a Department of Defense conference for chemical warfare garments.  I noticed that the fibers were similar in size to the body’s natural scaffold.   We were able to patent different areas of the electrospinning process along with creating different trade secrets (think Coca Cola’s secret formula).  Observation can be a powerful tool in new discoveries.  Learning lessons from failure can also bring new discoveries.  I remember when we were initially designing our Bio-Spun™ Cell Chamber and thought we could control outside cells from growing into the chamber.  Our scaffold is really liked by cells and the outside cells came right in and attacked the encapsulated cells.  We learned from this failure to design a new chamber that included a barrier to allow both properties (tissue ingrowth and protecting the inside cells) to occur at the same time.  These are just a few of the examples where observation is a powerful tool.       

Cam, while being my son, also serves as our marketing director at the company.  He has seen the company at various stages over the years (even before he worked for the company), witnessing our highs and lows as well as all of the changes that the company has undergone over the years.  I bring this up because Cam during the movie leaned over to me to say that this is how I must feel about what we are trying to do with our technology at BioSurfaces.  It is always humbling to think that he knows how passionate I am, as well as our whole team, about potentially helping people even if it is in some small way.  Nothing makes me prouder to know that my son knows my heart and what we want for BioSurfaces.

We will not be deterred in our mission.  We have to believe that we can make a difference and no matter what is put in front of us, we have to find a way to succeed.  That will not be easy and there will be many obstacles along the way, but watching this movie provided me inspiration to try to drive through walls to make our vision a reality.    



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