Indiana-based engineering and life sciences companies have contracted with
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty members Kacey Marra, PhD (pictured top), associate professor, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, director, Plastic Surgery Laboratory, and co-director of the Adipose Stem Cell Center, and J. Peter Rubin, MD (pictured bottom), chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and co-director of the Adipose Stem Cell Center, to adapt a technology that holds promise to help soldiers regrow tissue and recover from severe wounds. IKOTECH, LLC and Techshot, Inc., based in the Purdue Research Park of Southeast Indiana, are working to develop equipment called Quadrasep™ that improves the collection of stem cells from adult adipose, or fat, tissue. The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command selected the companies for a $730,000 contract to develop the technology.
"Fat contains 10 times more stem cells than bone marrow," said Rich Boling, vice president of corporate advancement at Techshot. "When they are transplanted, stem cells have the potential to dramatically improve the outcomes of patients with significant tissue loss, such as soldiers who suffer severe wounds."
Rich Boling explained that a mixture containing stem cells and other types of cells can be purified from human fat. The stem cells in the mixture can form many structures in the human body, including cartilage, nerves, muscle, and bone. During clinical trials, these stem cells have been used in plastic reconstructive surgery and the restoration of heart tissue after a heart attack.
Quadrasep will allow users to isolate specific subsets of stem cells in collected adipose tissue samples. Improved selectivity in stem cells will improve the outcomes for patients because existing methods are limited in their ability to purify cells.
"The process to harvest pure stem cells from adipose is done manually, and it is very time-consuming. A better purification method for isolating specific cells from fat has the potential to unleash a number of new cell therapies," said David Kennedy, president of IKOTECH. "We are excited to adapt the Quadrasep technology for this application in order to provide a more optimal cell transplant product."
IKOTECH will oversee adaptation and commercialization of the Quadrasep technology for this new application. Techshot will design and build the new equipment, which will be tested by researchers in the Adipose Stem Cell Center where researchers will evaluate the technology for adipose-derived stem cell production.
"The initial application for this technology is to help soldiers who have suffered trauma and wounds. We are proud to help the men and women who serve our country every day," David Kennedy said. "The technology developed in this project will also lead to new treatments for conditions and diseases that will improve the quality of life for people around the world."
“Fat grafting, or moving fat tissue from one part of the body to another, has been used as a cosmetic procedure for decades," comments Dr. Rubin, "but we are now applying this technology for reconstructive surgery to accurately restore facial form after battlefield injuries." The use of fat grafting for serious facial injuries, such as those resulting from roadside bombs, is facilitated in the DOD Biomedical Translational Initiative project by specially designed devices and instruments for harvesting the fat tissue and implanting it into regions of scarred tissue.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Purdue University News Release (10/27/11)
Clinical Translation: Helping Wounded Soldiers Recover from Facial Injuries
Bio: Dr. Kacey Marra
Bio: Dr. J. Peter Rubin