<![CDATA[Improving Gene Therapy]]> 28153 Last year, commercial medical history was made when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first gene therapy treatment, Kymriah, in the U.S., opening the door to a new world of treatment for devastating diseases. As reports from clinical trials of tisagenlecleucel (marketed as Kymriah) became public – that it used a patient’s own T-cells to actually kill cancer – the news media called it a miracle cure.

Of course, it took decades of research, a lot of trial and error at the molecular level. The concept, transplanting normal or healthy genes into cells in place of missing or defective genes in order to treat diseases and disorders, has been under development since the Reagan administration.

“The idea of gene therapy’s been around since I was a kid,” says Wilbur Lam, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology and researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech. “In the 1990s, gene therapy trials mostly failed and often caused deadly side effects like cancer. But the entire field has moved forward, and the field of gene therapy has now learned how to actually cure people.”

As it turns out, miracles are not only complex and elusive, they’re also expensive, to the point of being infeasible for large scale clinical translation. But with support from a new R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Lam’s lab is working to make gene therapies more efficient, and more economically accessible.

Kymriah, for example, has a price tag of $475,000 (or about $20,000 less than the value of Lam’s new four-year NIH grant).

“That price tag is largely a result of the difficulty and cost associated with viral vector manufacturing, which is, unfortunately, the key to these novel therapies,” says Reginald Tran, a postdoctoral researcher in Lam’s lab who is using microfluidic technology that he developed to incorporate basic mass transfer and fluid mechanics principles to increase gene therapy efficiency.

In gene therapy modified viruses often are used as vectors, or vehicles, to carry the good-guy genes into a human cell. It’s been proven to work, but it’s not a very efficient process, according to Lam. For one thing, “it takes about a billion cells to treat an adult for something like sickle cell disease,” he says.

Also, Lam notes that these engineered viral vectors have a half-life, “and they’ll deactivate if they don’t find their target cell in time. They will die. Excess virus is given to cells to ensure that enough cells get genetically modified, but this results in added costs and significant waste of the precious key reagent. ”

Tran, who earned his Ph.D. in the Lam lab, says he was amazed to learn about the capabilities of microfluidics, and how leveraging the differences in physics at the micro scale could unlock new possibilities for diagnostics and therapeutics.

“This project was really ideal for me since I could combine my backgrounds in mechanical engineering and microfluidics toward gene and cell therapy,” Tran adds. “I quickly found that microfluidics were the perfect platform to efficiently bring cells and viral vectors together to maximize gene transfer.”

Performing the critical gene transfer step in microfluidics dramatically reduces processing time and resources (up to five times less viral vector can be used). While many researchers continue to work on developing more potent genes or increasing viral vector manufacturing potential, the Lam group is focused on using less virus.

“At a time when virus shortages present a huge bottleneck in gene and cell therapy commercialization, we believe that our technology can help make these treatments more accessible and affordable for patients,” Tran says. “I feel extremely lucky to work on a problem that has the potential to make a meaningful impact on what could very well be the next frontier in modern medicine.”


]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1528137031 2018-06-04 18:30:31 1528145032 2018-06-04 20:43:52 0 0 news Lam lab using new NIH grant to make groundbreaking treatments more efficient and accessible

2018-06-04T00:00:00-04:00 2018-06-04T00:00:00-04:00 2018-06-04 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience

606742 606741 606742 image <![CDATA[Wilbur Lam]]> image/jpeg 1528136697 2018-06-04 18:24:57 1528136697 2018-06-04 18:24:57 606741 image <![CDATA[Reggie Tran]]> image/jpeg 1528136659 2018-06-04 18:24:19 1528136659 2018-06-04 18:24:19
<![CDATA[Mayo Clinic Taps Tech Capstone Team]]> 28153 Larry Huang has made a career of turning good ideas into tangible results.

Since graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in industrial management in 1973, he’s been an entrepreneur, helping to create billion-dollar companies. He’s been a race car driver, competing in the NASCAR Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car series. A former member of the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees, he’s been a philanthropist, endowing the Lawrence P. Huang Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship (currently held by David Ku, researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech.

Recently, Huang has taken on a new role: matchmaker. Through a series of events that he encapsulates as “a really serendipitous situation,” Huang linked Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, with a team of interdisciplinary Capstone Design students at Georgia Tech, forging a new collaboration in the evolving relationship between Mayo and Tech’s bio-community.

“It’s the classic win-win scenario,” says Huang, who is a patient at Mayo, where his reputation preceded him – Huang’s generosity had previously nourished Mayo Clinic Ventures, and he’s been trying to jumpstart technology infrastructure in Jacksonville since moving to the area 18 years ago, “with limited success,” he says.

But the southern stars are aligning as Mayo Clinic is in the midst of a massive $330 million expansion on its Florida campus, “to enhance research and innovation,” according to Gianrico Farrugia (physician and CEO of Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus) and Tushar Patel (physician scientist and Mayo’s Dean for Research in Florida), in a newspaper editorial they co-wrote last year.

“Mayo has a tremendous amount of intellectual property, and they’re building an incubator to commercialize that, they want to develop a start-up hub for the Southeast. But it became obvious to me right away that there is a missing piece,” says Huang, who met with Charles Bruce, M.D., the Mayo physician leading the effort. “You can have all the intellectual property, the clinicians, the technical and scientific knowledge, but in order to build a product or a service, you need engineers and a business plan.”


Going to the Source

Since Huang had graduated, a thriving bioengineering and biomedical engineering community had emerged at Georgia Tech, so he knew exactly where to turn. Huang brought Mayo’s planners together with leadership at Georgia Tech, including Petit Institute Executive Director Bob Guldberg, Scheller College of Business Dean Maryam Alavi, and James Rains, who directs the Capstone program for the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

“So we started looking for Capstone teams with a real entrepreneurial interest, and a lot of people applied,” says Rains. Ultimately, they selected an interdisciplinary team of five biomedical and mechanical engineering students that called itself – of course – Cinco de Mayo.

The team has three BME students: Dev Mandavia, Marci Medford, Cassidy Wang; and two from the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering: Alex Bills and Lucas Muller. If there was an ace in the hole, it was probably Mandavia, who has valuable experience when it comes to competitive entrepreneurial endeavors. He helped lead the BME team (CauteryGuard) that won last year’s Georgia Tech and Atlantic Coast Conference InVenture Prizes.

Cinco de Mayo actually got a head-start on its spring semester Capstone project, making trips to Jacksonville before the semester to meet with clinicians. According to Medford, they conducted about 200 interviews with personnel at Mayo, as well as the Piedmont and Grady health systems in Atlanta.

“We decided to focus on epidurals, because we realized there are so many complications related to the procedure, and we felt that we could make an impact,” says Medford.

The team considered about 10 different problems supplied by Mayo clinicians, asking itself, “what is going to have the biggest impact and be the easiest to implement, that last part being pretty important,” says Mandavia. “Having gone through the process of developing a medical device last year with CauteryGuard, I knew that you can create the best thing in the world, but if nobody’s interested in using it, you can’t really impact change.”


Sharp Focus

They focused on the delivery of neuraxial anesthesia (like an epidural), used extensively in the obstetric setting to alleviate pain during childbirth. With an epidural, a needle is inserted into the back to deliver drugs into the space around the spinal cord. Currently, these procedures are conducted without imaging or precise feedback that could alert the physician where and how deep to insert the needle.

“The clinical issue is getting guidance or feedback when gaining access to the epidural and intrathecal space,” says cardiologist/cardiac electrophysiologist K.L. Venkatachalam, M.D., one of the clinicians that worked with the Capstone team. “This is presently done with a special needle and most procedures are done simply based on anatomic considerations, with very little feedback about optimal position and angle of the needle.”

So, physicians are virtually blind, depending on tactile feedback and “loss of resistance” upon entry into the epidural space. Proficiency is gained and maintained only through continuous practice. Meanwhile, multiple attempts are usually made to place the needle, increasing pain and the risk of complications.

“This is a standard practice in labor and delivery,” Mandavia says. “These procedures are done millions of times a year. You can’t use fluoroscopy or X-rays, because you expose the baby to harmful radiation.”

The current version of the ‘NeuraLine’ device they developed uses bioelectric impedance analysis and/or force sensing, allowing physicians to identify entry into specific anatomical spaces. Other modalities may also be explored. The Cinco de Mayo team will have a better sense of its next steps following a May 4th meeting at Mayo, an opportunity to show and tell for an audience of clinicians and experts.


Public Debut

First, they unveiled the product at the spring semester Capstone Design Expo (April 24), a competition won by a BME team called Kit Cath. Then they spent the next week and a half preparing for the meeting at Mayo, which Mandavia described as, “a culmination of everything we’ve done, the steps we took to get here, the prototyping, the iterations, the user interviews, everything that went into it, and also a look into the future. We really think this is something that could impact a lot of people.”

Their device aims to improve clinical confidence, minimize complication rates, and eliminate the steep learning curve of the current practice. Accounting for all neuroaxial procedures in the U.S., the team estimates the total addressable market to be $5 billion. The team plans to devote itself to further development of the device this summer.

And going forward, professor of the practice James Rains envisions an ongoing relationship between the Mayo Clinic and BME Capstone teams, “in which we connect these outstanding young engineers with leading physicians to solve clinical problems.”

Mayo already is collaborating with Georgia Tech’s bio-community in a meaningful way as an organizing partner and gold sponsor of the annual Regenerative Medicine Workshop, launched by Tech more than two decades ago and brought together each year by a team that also includes the University of Wisconsin, University of Pittsburgh, and the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine Center (a partnership of Emory, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia).

This kind of cross pollination between disciplines, between engineering students and clinicians, “is crucial in coming up with solutions to this problem,” says Venkatachalam. “This was a great example of working together to come up with a viable, inexpensive solution.”

The students and Mayo clinicians kept in touch throughout the process with weekly video conferences, looking at various approaches, as well as several face-to-face meetings, which allowed the physicians to show the engineering students the clinical arena and the challenges health care providers face during the procedure.

“I thought the students were bright, enthusiastic, and motivated to succeed,” Venkatachalam says. “I was pleased to see them step back to get a good understanding of the big picture, including the clinical need and the potential market.”

For Larry Huang, the value of partnering with Capstone students is something he became well acquainted with last year, when he tapped a team of mechanical engineering (ME) students to redesign the intake system for the air box on one of his race cars.

But this latest experience with the interdisciplinary team of BME and ME students gets closer to the core of what has driven him for more than 40 years.

“I’ve been interested in the commercialization of technology for a long time,” Huang says. “It’s because I’ve always thought that this is a way to really make people’s lives better while also creating value.”


View Team Neuraline's presentation to the Mayo Clinic here.

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1525878919 2018-05-09 15:15:19 1526048943 2018-05-11 14:29:03 0 0 news BME and ME students collaborate on novel device to improve epidural procedures

2018-05-09T00:00:00-04:00 2018-05-09T00:00:00-04:00 2018-05-09 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience

605999 606000 606001 606002 605999 image <![CDATA[Neuraline Team]]> image/jpeg 1525878058 2018-05-09 15:00:58 1525878098 2018-05-09 15:01:38 606000 image <![CDATA[Medford Neuraline]]> image/jpeg 1525878166 2018-05-09 15:02:46 1525878166 2018-05-09 15:02:46 606001 image <![CDATA[Cassidy Neuraline]]> image/jpeg 1525878274 2018-05-09 15:04:34 1525878274 2018-05-09 15:04:34 606002 image <![CDATA[Dev, Buzz, Marci]]> image/jpeg 1525878338 2018-05-09 15:05:38 1525878338 2018-05-09 15:05:38
<![CDATA[Building a Better Brace]]> 28153 John Harvey is an active 8-year-old with spina bifida, who gets around pretty well right now with the help of braces, crutches, and a wheelchair. But he’s a growing boy and his parents have their eyes on the future, and they wonder about the tools he’ll use to help him along his evolving path from Point A to Point B.

“We’re concerned with the challenges he’ll face as he gets older and taller,” says his mom, Stephanie Harvey of Atlanta. “The last thing we want to do is inhibit him.”

“He needs functional tools that grow with him,” adds his dad, Stu.

With that in mind, last summer the Harveys contacted the BME Capstone program at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.

Every semester through the Capstone program, BME seniors experience all aspects of product development, with an emphasis on medical devices, working towards the goal of producing functional prototypes to address the needs of a wide range of users. For the Fall 2017 semester, one of those users was John Harvey. Turns out, the Harveys already had a connection with Tech.

“At one point, all four of our babysitters were Georgia Tech seniors or graduates, and one of them knew all about the BME Capstone program,” says Stu.

So they contacted program director James Rains, then submitted their project proposal and soon made a new group of talented friends in BME seniors Zinka Bartolek, Renee Copeland, Samantha Houser, Davira “Tia” Widianto, and Brice Williams.


Perfect Fit

The students had “a bunch of projects to consider,” says Houser, but they quickly discovered that their goals and skill sets converged perfectly with the Harveys’ interests.

“John’s family was frustrated with some of his bracing solutions. They weren’t providing him with the mobility they’d like to see,” says Houser who, with her teammates, graduated following the fall semester. “This was a great fit for us.”

Williams, who like most of his teammates is planning on medical school, adds, “one of the main reasons this project appealed to me is, I’d like to go into pediatrics. This gave me a glimpse into that world, and the challenges in pediatric medicine.”

So, with the coordination of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the BME seniors and Harveys joined forces. The team spent about two months doing interviews with the Harveys, with John’s physical therapists, his orthotists, other professionals and patients they met through the Spina Bifida Association of Georgia, which sponsored the annual Walk n’ Roll for Spina Bifida on the Georgia Tech campus in October.

The timing of that event was fortuitous. Copeland – a former Petit Institute Undergraduate Research Scholar – was researching spina bifida and happened to read about the 12th annual Walk n’ Roll. “And then we had two weeks to get everything ready, but it was really lucky for us, because we were able to get a lot of user interviews done that day,” Copeland says.

“By that point, we’d already sketched out almost 100 design iterations,” says Widianto. “We let the families that were there offer feedback, write down what they liked, what they didn’t. We had a lot of sticky notes.”

They gathered all of that data and gave it to the Harveys, who consulted with John’s therapists and orthotists, to pick a final design.


Brace for Awesomeness

Pediatric medical devices, like the knee-ankle-foot orthosics (KAFOs) John uses, can do wonders, but they are limited in few ways: They don’t grow with a child’s maturing body, and they don’t promote proper balance or natural ambulation, which can lead to bone growth issues down the road.

So the team’s mission statement was, “improve ambulation of pediatric spina bifida patients through a novel orthotic solution that allows knee mobility during walking while supporting the user’s weight, without deforming.” With that goal in mind, young John gave the team a name: Brace for Awesomeness.

When John wears his standard device for ambulation, it has to be locked in a fully extended position for structural support, but this results in an unnatural gait. The team’s final prototype, WalkSense, is a pressure sensor calibrated device that controls the locking state of the knee based on the walking cycle. WalkSense sends a signal from the heel of the KAFO up to the knee to a locking device.

Brace for Awareness unveiled its prototype at the fall edition of the Capstone Design Expo in December, when 136 teams put their work on display, (including Liv’R Little, which won in the BME category at the expo).

“We had a chance to show off what we’d done and where we’d been,” says Houser. Over the course of several months, the team became like members of the Harveys’ extended family, going to dinner at the house, going to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy.

“They truly took time to get to know and understand John and our family – they really went above and beyond,” Stephanie says.


Big Night, Big Hopes

It all came together at the Expo. The team used videos, a large poster, and the prototype to tell the story of their Capstone journey.

“The highlight of the night was showing the Harveys the device, and seeing the excitement in every single member of the family, including all three of the children,” says Copeland, the former Petit Scholar who’d been named Ms. Georgia Tech just weeks before the Expo. “Every family member played a part in the process, and it was exciting to see their reactions, and imagine what the final version of this device might be, and what it would mean to John.”

Their product, the WalkSense, was only a prototype and not ready for regular patient use yet, “but it’s definitely a prototype that can be leveraged into the next phase,” Stu believes.

It’s a work in progress, and the family has been discussing the future possibilities with John’s regular care team of physicians, therapists, and orthotists. The family is thinking long-range, with visions that extend beyond their own experience.

“When I think about my son’s life, the surgeries he’s had, and later, the medical devices, someone had to pave the way,” Stu says. “Our goal is to see if something could be developed to help John, but also to help the children like him 20 years from now.”


]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1516119426 2018-01-16 16:17:06 1516119426 2018-01-16 16:17:06 0 0 news BME Capstone team addresses mobility challenges for young spina bifida patient

2018-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 2018-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 2018-01-16 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience

600845 600845 image <![CDATA[Brace for Awesomeness]]> image/jpeg 1516118744 2018-01-16 16:05:44 1516118744 2018-01-16 16:05:44
<![CDATA[Mannino Wins National Award]]> 28153 Robert Mannino, a Ph.D. student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, took top honors in competition for the 2017 Student Technology Prize for Primary Healthcare, held in Boston and hosted by Massachusetts General Hospital Ambulatory Practice of the Future.

The annual national competition encourages graduate and undergraduate engineering students to direct their creative skills toward the needs of primary care – innovations that have a substantial potential to improve the delivery of care, whether they be technologies, instrumentation, devices, or systems.

The technologies of particular interest improve access to medical care, leverage the skills of caregivers, automate routine tasks, increase workflow efficiency, support patients with chronic disease, increase compliance with protocols, reduce error, or augment the physician-patient relationship.

Mannino, who works in the lab of Wilbur Lam, associate professor of BME and a researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, won the $100,000 top prize. It will support his research, based on his Ph.D. dissertation, which he’ll defend this year. He’s developing a smartphone app to non-invasively diagnose anemia. 

It’s research that hits close to home for Mannino, who was born with a rare genetic blood disorder, thalassemia major, which causes anemia and requires him to receive a blood transfusion every month. Basically, says Lam, “his Ph.D. is centered on developing new diagnostics for his own disease.”

He’s already completed an initial clinical assessment of the system, which uses smartphone photos of the patient’s fingernails for diagnosis.


]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1515002312 2018-01-03 17:58:32 1543518663 2018-11-29 19:11:03 0 0 news BME graduate student takes top Student Technology Prize

2018-01-03T00:00:00-05:00 2018-01-03T00:00:00-05:00 2018-01-03 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience

600344 600344 image <![CDATA[Robert Mannino in lab]]> image/jpeg 1515001946 2018-01-03 17:52:26 1515001946 2018-01-03 17:52:26
<![CDATA[Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance Receives $51 Million NIH Grant]]> 27303 After a decade of research collaboration, the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) will welcome a new partner and change its name, reflecting a new statewide focus. The University of Georgia will officially become the fourth academic partner, and ACTSI will now be known as the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA).

This alliance is celebrating 10 years of research advancement by expanding across the state through a five-year, $51 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Emory University-led Georgia CTSA will focus on transforming the quality and value of clinical research and translating research results into better outcomes for patients.

The Georgia CTSA unites the strengths of its academic partners: Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia. Emory is a national leader in health care and biomedical research as well as an outstanding leader in clinical and translational research training and education. Morehouse School of Medicine is a nationally recognized historically black institution that brings ethnic diversity to biomedical research, addresses health disparities through successful community engagement research, and serves as a pipeline for training minority researchers. Georgia Tech is a national leader in biomedical engineering, bioinformatics  and the application of innovative systems engineering to health care solutions. The University of Georgia has a proven track record in outstanding basic and translational research and, as the state’s land grant institution, offers a robust statewide network that enhances community outreach, service and research.

“Continuing such an alliance and involving these leading state institutions is extremely important and in line with Georgia’s goals for the promotion of clinical and translational research, innovation and development,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. “Having an active Clinical & Translational Science awardee in Georgia has brought our citizens cutting edge cures and the latest in clinical and translational research.”

Georgia CTSA is one of 64 Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) at major academic medical centers across the country, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Science, and it is the only CTSA in Georgia. The award will fund cores focused on improving quality, efficiency and collaboration of the research process; provide consultative support and new tools in informatics and biostatistics; pilot funding for new research projects, training and workforce development, while integrating special populations and focusing on participant interactions, and creating local centers tackling clinical trial inefficiencies.

The Georgia CTSA welcomes contact principal investigator (PI) at Emory, W. Robert Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., and a new multi-PI leadership structure: 

W. Robert Taylor, MD, PhD
Contact Principal Investigator, Georgia CTSA
Interim Chair, Department of Medicine
Director, Division of Cardiology
Marcus Chair in Vascular Medicine
Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering
Emory University School of Medicine

Elizabeth O. Ofili, MD, MPH
Principal Investigator, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia CTSA 
Professor of Medicine, Cardiology
Senior Associate Dean of Clinical and Translational Research
Director, Clinical Research Center 
Morehouse School of Medicine

Andrés J. García, PhD
Principal Investigator, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia CTSA 
Rae S. and Frank H. Neely Endowed Chair and Regents' Professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience
Director, Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program
Georgia Institute of Technology

Bradley G. Phillips, PharmD, BCPS, FCCP
Principal Investigator, University of Georgia, Georgia CTSA
Millikan-Reeve Professor and Head, Clinical & Administrative Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy 
Director, Clinical and Translational Research Unit (CTRU), Office of Research
University of Georgia

Henry M. Blumberg, MD
Principal Investigator, KL2 and TL1, Georgia CTSA
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Division of Infectious Diseases
Emory University School of Medicine

"The Georgia CTSA creates a unique opportunity for synergy among historic partners in health care, education, and cutting edge research, and has emerged as an innovative and integrated environment where clinical and translational researchers can flourish," said Taylor. "The Georgia CTSA is a catalyst and incubator for clinical and translational research across the state, with impacts throughout the Southeast and nation."

The Georgia CTSA has improved health care and research for Georgia citizens through collaboration with the Grady Health System, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta VA Medical Center, Georgia Research Alliance, Georgia Bio, and multiple community medical groups throughout the state. 

"Georgia CTSA continues established, strong clinical and research partnerships by leveraging the infrastructure support of the NIH-funded Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI) at Morehouse School of Medicine. We will continue to implement innovative patient centered and participatory care delivery models, toward the elimination of health disparities," said Ofili.

“Georgia CTSA’s innovative support of discovery and collaborative partnerships help to rapidly translate scientific discoveries and new technology, which positively impacts patient care in Georgia. This is an exciting story for the state,” said Garcia. “The new alliance is improving health care and clinical research for the citizens of Georgia and continues to create synergies that foster and accelerate new and emerging technologies and discoveries.”

“The addition of the University of Georgia provides the Georgia CTSA a statewide footprint to connect with every county in the state to address health and wellness needs, particularly in rural and underserved populations; opportunities for continued excellence in research by strengthening existing and expanding new research collaborations; and the ability to enrich interprofessional education to include students and trainees from pharmacy and other disciplines so that they can learn how to work together as a team to discover new approaches and treatments that improve health and patient care,” said Phillips. “As a new member of the Georgia CTSA, faculty and students across our campus will have unique support and infrastructure that builds upon current capabilities and increases our trajectory in fostering clinical and translational science in the state and beyond.” 

Written by Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance.

For more information, please visit www.GeorgiaCTSA.org  

]]> John Toon 1 1506305224 2017-09-25 02:07:04 1506603302 2017-09-28 12:55:02 0 0 news After a decade of research collaboration, the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) will welcome a new partner and change its name, reflecting a new statewide focus. The University of Georgia will officially become the fourth academic partner, and ACTSI will now be known as the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA). This alliance is celebrating 10 years of research advancement by expanding across the state through a five-year, $51 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

2017-09-25T00:00:00-04:00 2017-09-25T00:00:00-04:00 2017-09-25 00:00:00 John Toon

Research News

(404) 894-6986

596398 596399 596446 596398 image <![CDATA[Andres Garcia and diabetes research]]> image/jpeg 1506304217 2017-09-25 01:50:17 1506304641 2017-09-25 01:57:21 596399 image <![CDATA[Andres Garcia and diabetes research2]]> image/jpeg 1506304606 2017-09-25 01:56:46 1506304606 2017-09-25 01:56:46 596446 image <![CDATA[W. Robert Taylor]]> image/jpeg 1506363789 2017-09-25 18:23:09 1506363789 2017-09-25 18:23:09
<![CDATA[Reducing Worry and Waste]]> 28153 A project funded by the Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium (APDC, which is headquartered at the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience) will help relieve the stress and anxiety (and cost) that parents face in the wake of discovering their child has a heart murmur.

Consider the scenario: During a routine exam, a pediatrician hears a heart murmur and refers the child to a cardiologist and an appointment is scheduled for a few days (or weeks) later. The parents are terrified, but put on their brave faces.

When the appointment finally arrives, the cardiologist listens and soon diagnoses a Still’s murmur, which is completely harmless. The parents finally exhale, and a potentially life-changing problem simply evaporates.

This scenario plays out more than a million times each year. Pediatricians don’t want to take a chance the murmur might be serious, and as a result, parents and older children face needless anxiety and the healthcare system wastes $650 million annually on unnecessary referrals.

The device being developed by AusculTech Dx is designed to be used by pediatricians to quickly diagnose Still’s murmurs, ultimately saving money and stress for patients and the healthcare system. Read the whole story here.



AusculTech Dx

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1492178393 2017-04-14 13:59:53 1492178393 2017-04-14 13:59:53 0 0 news Startup supported by Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium making it easier to detect harmless heart murmurs

2017-04-14T00:00:00-04:00 2017-04-14T00:00:00-04:00 2017-04-14 00:00:00 590383 590383 image <![CDATA[prototype]]> image/png 1492175930 2017-04-14 13:18:50 1492175930 2017-04-14 13:18:50
<![CDATA[Self-Repaired Eyesight]]> 28153 Researchers with the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine research center (REM) have developed a new way to identify and sort stem cells that may one day allow clinicians to restore vision to people with damaged corneas using the patient’s own eye tissue. They published their findings in Biophysical Journal.

The cornea is a transparent layer of tissue covering the front of the eye, and its health is maintained by a group of cells called limbal stem cells. But when these cells are damaged by trauma or disease, the cornea loses its ability to self-repair.

“Damage to the limbus, which is where the clear part of the eye meets the white part of the eye, can cause the cornea to break down very rapidly,” said James Lauderdale, an associate professor of cellular biology in the University of Georgia's (UGA) Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and paper co-author. “The only way to repair the cornea right now is do a limbal cell transplant from donated tissue.”

In their study, researchers used a new type of highly sensitive atomic force microscopy, or AFM, to analyze eye cell cultures. Created by Todd Sulchek, a researcher at the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and an associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, the technique allowed researchers to probe and exert force on individual cells to learn more about the cell’s overall health and its ability to turn into different types of mature cells. 

Read the complete story here.

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1489756309 2017-03-17 13:11:49 1494869105 2017-05-15 17:25:05 0 0 news Stem cell treatment may restore vision to patients with damaged corneas

2017-03-17T00:00:00-04:00 2017-03-17T00:00:00-04:00 2017-03-17 00:00:00 588598 588598 image <![CDATA[Todd Sulchek and microfluidic device]]> image/jpeg 1489179074 2017-03-10 20:51:14 1489179074 2017-03-10 20:51:14
<![CDATA[Patiently Growing]]> 28153 Robert Matheny, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is giving last-minute instructions to another surgeon who is about to operate on a baby 2,000 miles away in a neon city.

“How old is the child? Thirteen months? Yeah, yeah, I think that would be fine,” Matheny says, then pauses a few seconds before continuing in the secret code of his profession. “OK, line up the seam at the seven o’clock position on the annulus, down to the septal papillary muscles, and make a good u-stitch and then put an extra bit through it so that you get three bites – even four if you feel like it’s necessary – through each anchor point, and it’s pretty forgiving.”

He pauses another second and adds, “That should work great.”

It does work great. The patient, known as “Baby Las Vegas,” is now at home and doing well after receiving a tricuspid valve replacement with a novel device created by CorMatrix, the company Matheny co-founded. Based in Roswell, Ga., CorMatrix has twice received a critical financial boost through the Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium (APDC), headquartered at the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In 2012, CorMatrix first received APDC funding for its prosthetic trileaflet valve. In September 2016, the company received a fresh round of APDC funding for its regenerating tubular mitral valve device for babies. Both projects utilize CorMatrix’s patented extracellular matrix (ECM).

ECM is a naturally occurring bioscaffold that surrounds cells in most tissues. It allows for cell adhesion, differentiation, division, and migration. CorMatrix’s ECM material acts as a scaffold into which the patient’s own cells migrate and integrate, stimulating wound healing mechanisms, which mature to form a strong, permanent tissue repair.

APDC leadership was particularly interested in how the company’s proposed products address one of the major issues related to pediatric medical devices: young people grow.

“Children are growing as they get older, and that can be a major stumbling block,” notes David Ku, who is APDC’s executive director as well as the Lawrence P. Huang Chair Professor of Engineering Entrepreneurship, a Regents’ Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Petit Institute researcher.

“Let’s say that a child at four needs a heart valve,” Ku says. “By the time he’s 12, that valve will probably need to double in size, which would mean another surgery. What’s interesting about this company is, they’ve addressed this major problem because their tissue grows with the child.”

CorMatrix is produced in manner that retains natural ECM molecules, including growth factors, proteins, and cytokines, which play important roles in host tissue repair and remodeling. So far, CorMatrix devices have been used as a biologic scaffold in a variety of surgical applications, especially cardiac and vascular repairs. The idea is to give surgeons the ability to create a growing native anatomy, serving as a better alternative to synthetic or cross-linked materials.

The company was founded as CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc., in 2001. It has deep roots at Georgia Tech, but was built on technology that came out of Purdue University, where Matheny had been doing cardiovascular research. He moved to Atlanta in 1999 to start a lab at the facility now known as T3 Labs (T3, for Translational Testing and Training), next door to the Georgia Tech campus.

Matheny, who had been balancing his roles as researcher and physician, ultimately gave up his clinical practice as CorMatrix demanded more of his time.  Along the way, he’s partnered with Georgia Tech researchers to develop the CorMatrix technology and move it forward into other applications.

Most importantly, he partnered with Anna Fallon, who earned her Ph.D. while working in the lab of Petit Institute researcher Ajit Yoganathan, who is a professor and associate chair for translational research in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. Fallon (who recently left CorMatrix to become director of research for MiMedx) was co-principal investigator with Matheny for CorMatrix’s first APDC-funded project.

“Anna had ECM experience. She wanted to work on valves, and she really was the product development person for us,” Matheny says of his former colleague. “And she’s the one who told me what was available through APDC.”

CorMatrix received its first clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005. For a couple of years, before moving into its current facility in Roswell in January 2013, the company was actually headquartered in the basement of the Petit Institute building.

So far, CorMatrix has been used at nearly 1,000 hospitals, and been implanted in more than 145,000 cardiac and vascular procedures, including one in a 13-month baby in Las Vegas. Matheny likes his company’s odds going forward.

To date, all of the company’s funding has come from APDC or individuals, like Bernie Marcus. The philanthropist and Home Depot co-founder is particularly interested in mitral and tricuspid valves. Heart valves are taking up a lot of the company’s time and interest these days, but Matheny sees the opportunity for plenty of other applications for this biological tool that he has harnessed, a tool that can grow with the patient.

“Now that we’re learning the recipe, there really isn’t a tissue that’s off limits,” he says. “It (ECM) has moved into the clinical field, and I think it’s just a matter of time before it replaces most synthetics.”





Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1481825586 2016-12-15 18:13:06 1481832680 2016-12-15 20:11:20 0 0 news APDC-supported CorMatrix, develops devices that can grow with the patient

2016-12-15T00:00:00-05:00 2016-12-15T00:00:00-05:00 2016-12-15 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience

585109 585110 585108 585111 585109 image <![CDATA[Robert Matheny and patient]]> image/jpeg 1481824402 2016-12-15 17:53:22 1481824402 2016-12-15 17:53:22 585110 image <![CDATA[Tricuspid valve]]> image/png 1481824485 2016-12-15 17:54:45 1481824485 2016-12-15 17:54:45 585108 image <![CDATA[Anna Fallon]]> image/jpeg 1481824330 2016-12-15 17:52:10 1481824330 2016-12-15 17:52:10 585111 image <![CDATA[CorMatrix ECM]]> image/png 1481824559 2016-12-15 17:55:59 1481824559 2016-12-15 17:55:59