Akron Biotech recently participated in the ARMI | BioFabUSA Spring Summit in Manchester, NH, joining several leading research institutions and companies to continue charting a path forward for the tissue engineering industry. If we think about innovation as a process of bringing old ideas together to make new things, then ARMI is uniquely suited to the task of fostering novelty in this space. As Dean Kamen, the organization’s Executive Director and Chairman, made clear in his introductory remarks, the development of tissue engineering depends on our ability to successfully bring together people with different backgrounds, collating disparate ideas and technologies to generate something new. Supported by its diverse and dynamic members, ARMI operates as a systems integrator, gathering the unit operations necessary to generate tissues and then crafting an integrated process to govern their production.
Through its projects, ARMI fosters the collaborative development of several critical unit operations including cell culture and harvest, scaffold fabrication, tissue maturation and bioreactor culture, and preservation, packaging, and transport, enabling the development of modular solutions to be integrated into an automated system for manufacturing tissue engineered medical products (TEMPs). The Spring Summit brought together several members active in each of these niches, including Doris A. Taylor, Ph.D., Director of Regenerative Medicine Research at the Texas Heart Institute, who spoke about her work using pluripotent stem cells to engineer whole hearts, and John Morris, Ph.D., CEO of Asymptote (GE), who presented the company’s VIA Freeze, a controlled rate freezer that provides a validated means of cooling cells and tissues for long-term cryopreservation, thereby enabling greater post-thaw recovery.
As a leading developer of cryopreservation solutions and producer of cGMP grade recombinant proteins, Akron has been an active participant in the development of ARMI’s platform for TEMP manufacturing and deployment. Indeed, Akron’s Founder and CEO, Claudia Zylberberg, Ph.D. sits on ARMI’s Leadership Advisory Counsel. Akron and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have been funded by ARMI to develop a novel means of cryopreserving tissue constructs and assessing the viability and functionality of said constructs after thawing. This research, presented at the Spring Summit by WPI researcher Jonian Grosha, has led to a more detailed understanding of how cryopreservation affects the biological and physical properties of tissues. Ultimately, we will need better strategies to enable tissue preservation above freezing temperatures that ensure the safe and efficacious deployment of these products over large distances and in austere environments. Akron is working with several partners to develop novel solutions that address this critical gap in the tissue manufacturing and preservation value chain. To learn more about our work, and to find out how we can support the development of your engineered tissue products, please reach out!