The Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center has awarded $630,000 in the form of 11 seed grants targeted towards new research in regenerative medicine. The grant-funded research attends to the issue of how the body (including bone, muscle, nerves, blood vessels and tissues) can take advantage of its own potential to heal or regenerate after disease or trauma.
“We looked for projects along the innovation spectrum, including early-stage projects for which the potential payoffs justified taking the risk and projects supported by preliminary data that were at an advanced preclinical or early clinical stage,” said Robert Guldberg, Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center co-director.
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center collaboration first got its start in 1998 with the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues (GTEC), a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. Since 1998, more than 13 startup companies have been formed, 15 technologies have been licensed, and three clinical trials have taken place.
Emory University Hospital
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Since the Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center has called out for grant applications, 28 seed grant proposals from both Georgia Tech and Emory research groups have been submitted. Emory University states that those with the highest potential for influencing the field of regenerative medicine were approved for funding.
“We are very excited that the funded proposals will initiate new partnerships among regenerative medicine researchers at institutions across Atlanta,” said Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center Co-Director W. Robert Taylor. Taylor is also Director of the Division of Cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine, Marcus Chair in Vascular Medicine and a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
According to Georgia Tech, an interdisciplinary team of stem cell engineers and stem cell biologists from Emory, Georgia Tech and Morehouse College was awarded one of the $50,000 grants. The group’s research will focus on improving the quality of stem cells taken from the bone marrow of people with critical limb ischemia so that they can be utilized as cellular therapy that may help prevent amputation in patients. Critical limb ischemia occurs when arteries in the lower extremities of the body are blocked, and blood flow reduction occurs. This condition affects more than 500,000 people every year and can cause severe pain and loss of tissue, and may lead to amputation.
W. Robert Taylor
Image courtesy of Georgia Tech
“Mesenchymal stem cells derived from the bone marrow of healthy individuals have been shown to support new blood vessel growth and help re-establish blood flow to an affected area, but the quality of mesenchymal stem cells in individuals with critical limb ischemia is known to be poor because of the typical patient’s age and medical condition,” said Luke Brewster, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Emory University.
To confront this issue, the team of researchers plans to develop methods for rejuvenating mesenchymal stem cells taken from amputated ischemic patient limbs in an exciting new way that will encourage cell expansion and lower the risk of inflammatory response. Such pioneering techniques as this are only one example of the many ways the Emory/Georgia Tech Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center seed grants will revolutionize research in regenerative medicine.
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