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Week 8 –Developments, Discussions and Dilemmas

Hope everyone had a great week. For us, it was a short week due to Presidents’ Day, the last holiday off for the next couple of months. Guess this is what makes the winter feel a little longer. This type of week tends to have the team hitting the ground running a little faster than normal because you want to get some things accomplished by the end of the week. That also includes this blog as well. I set a goal of getting this blog prepared by Thursday evening so I don’t have to get up early Friday morning. Well, sometimes the best laid plans go astray. Sometimes I think I must be crazy doing this with everything that I have going on in the week. I also get to hear this from Tina on a consistent basis. She knows me and my schedule (only person that does) so I say this out of appreciation that she looks out for me. That being said, I truly enjoy providing you an update of what we are working on. I intermittently hear from different people that they are reading it each week. They will sometimes ask questions about the blog to extend on what I’ve posted, ask what the next plans for the company are, or just tell me they enjoy reading about the company. That is really cool and the reason I do this.

The title of this week’s blog really sums up the week. My week actually started over the weekend. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy getting some work done when it is quiet so I can focus on some research or writing without the need to put out fires or answer questions. While I enjoy that, I still really appreciate my quiet time. I began a study this weekend that has extended through the entire week (and into the coming weekend) that is focusing on evaluating drug release from an electrospun material I had made a few weeks ago. The drug prevents blood from clotting, which is important for various medical devices like our graft that are implanted in arteries or in the heart. We are trying to simulate how this drug would be released when exposed to flowing blood. After looking at release, we will also look at its effectiveness to prevent blood clotting once released. We use a test that shows color over time when the drug is not working (turns yellow) and stays clear when the drug is working (as shown in the photo). We use a machine called a spectrophotometer (say that 10 times fast) to measure color change over time. More tests to run next week. I was not planning about talking about this but once the science gets in my mind, I can’t help myself.

This was the least of the developments that was going on this week. Our engineering group continues to develop new components used in the electrospinning process as well as refine methods for the various products we are developing. It was exciting to watch the whole team participate in the testing of one new component. It’s a nice feeling to watch people start to gather around as something new is being unveiled. This component could help in improving how fast materials could be made (sorry I can’t show you this). I always enjoy watching the person who is developing the technology. The nerves and excitement go hand in hand since you don’t know how the testing will go. This gets even bigger when the device is implanted into a preclinical model. I am happy to report that the initial test looks very promising. We also continued to make progress on developing the cell culture inserts for the NIH program. There have been some parts of the process that have been frustrating, but the team has persevered to overcome any problems to make some really good-looking prototypes. We are getting close to finalizing the process which is exciting. It has come a long way in a short period of time.

The week for me also had a lot of meetings, phone calls and emails to get different aspects of the business moving forward. One of my favorite meetings was with Drs. Glenn Gaudette and George Pins from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. First and foremost, Glenn and George are friends so it was great to reconnect at what I affectionately referred to as the Panera Summit. Glenn and George are doing some really cool research related to using plant leaves as a scaffold to make items from dermal (skin) patches and arteries to meat grown in a dish. The benefits of these types of meetings is that it allows us to see where could be synergies between our electrospinning technology and their research (I smell another weekend of playing in the lab coming up soon). The ideas flowed like the coffee Panera pushed out the door at breakfast time. It is why I went into this field and is what I live for. The meeting was very productive, leaving us with some possible ways to work together soon. Other meetings this week were also productive, focused on developing potential partnerships for the different programs we are working on. Some of these meetings were internal discussions/e-mails and some were directly with potential partners (some new ones that we’ll discuss in the future). These types of discussions make the process and/or final product that much better.

This week also brought some dilemmas that affected our productivity. Unfortunately, these issues were not self-inflicted (those can be easily corrected). These were outside of our control and required us to work together to find a solution. Troubleshooting something that you have not created is very hard. It requires you to undertake a systematic approach to cover all possible angles where the problem could be arising. We are fortunate that outside groups, which had some hand in the initial problem and could help troubleshoot these issues, jumped right into action. It can be frustrating at times, but we worked through it. I think we may have solved both issues. It was a good learning experience (although I am not sure all members of our team agree with my assessment). Going through this gives you experience that they will carry with them.

Sometimes I wish there was more time in the week…..

Have a great weekend!



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