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Technology to collect stem cells from fat tissue may help soldiers recover from traumatic injuries

Thu, 10/27/2011 - 5:50am
NEW ALBANY, Ind. - Indiana-based engineering and life sciences companies have contracted with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh 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."

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 at the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's chief of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery Dr. Peter Rubin and associate professor Kacey Marra, co-directors of the Adipose Stem Cell Center, will evaluate the technology for adipose-derived stem cell production.

Kennedy said Quadrasep has the potential to be used for both military and civilian applications.

"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," he 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."

About IKOTECH LLC

IKOTECH, located in the Purdue Research Park of Southeast Indiana, is a supplier of scale-up solutions for cell therapy processing and production. IKOTECH's products include the HyperFlux cell and particle analyzer, the Quadrasep high-speed cell sorter and the Quadrasep L/P large-particle sorter. IKOTECH's products are enabling the next generation in revolutionary new medical technologies known as cell therapies, where human or animal cells are transplanted through minimally or noninvasive methods to heal wounds and cure diseases. IKOTECH's products are in testing for use in applications including stem cell research, cancer therapeutics and diabetes therapeutics.

About Techshot Inc.

Techshot is a contract new product development company. Most of its commercial customers are small startup enterprises such as Mavizon Technologies, one of the stars of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With 25 mechanical, electrical and software engineers, plus a staff of scientists, Techshot designs, prototypes and readies new products for manufacturing. Industries for which it develops new products include aerospace, automotive, green tech, defense, consumer products and medical devices.

About Purdue Research Park

The Purdue Research Park, with four locations across Indiana, has the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country. The park network is home to about 200 companies that employ 4,000 people and are located in West Lafayette, Merrillville, Indianapolis and New Albany.

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