Introducing Organogenesis and the Apligraf

Organogenesis, Inc.
Organogenesis, Inc.

As promised, we’re back with more about Regenerative Medicine. Our first profile is on Organogenesis, a company based in Canton, Massachusetts, who is at the forefront of the field. Their website states that “in the future, regenerative medicine technologies may deliver neural regeneration, islet cells for diabetes, and more substantial heart repair.” For Organogenesis, this process starts with healing chronic wounds.

Organogenesis has a product on the market called the Apligraf. The Apligraf mimics human skin to kick-start the healing process. Imagine living for years with an open wound—if you last this long without having to lose your limb that is. Organogenesis’ Apligraf can save the lives of people doing just that, it can save limbs and lives with the simple regeneration of skin cells. The new skin-like graft is created from donated foreskin from circumcision. That may sound weird, but since the Apligraf was developed it has taken twelve donated foreskins and made enough cell lines to create half a million Apligrafs. They take the foreskin cells, break them down, and then fibroblasts and keratinocytes, a bottom and top layer respectively, are used to create a remarkably skin-like bilayer graft.

This forty-four square centimeter cell culture can be applied to diabetic foot ulcers as well as venous leg ulcers, which makes it unique from any other similar product. It is designed to be applied to the patient’s wound and using the young and healthy cells in the Apligraf stimulate the body to make cells and heal itself. This revolutionizes the healing process for people with chronic wounds and can give them their lives back!

Want to know more about what else Organogenesis is doing? Stay tuned until our next post when we talk about the rest of their technology! Let us know what you think so far at @TRA360!

Organogenesis, Apligraf, Gintuit, and the Future of Rengerative Medicine

Apligraf, Organogenesis, Inc.
Apligraf, Organogenesis, Inc.

We’re back with more on Organogenesis. We figure if Organogenesis doesn’t stop at one life changing product, why should we stop at one blog about them.  Welcome back and enjoy the rest of what they have to offer.

Organogenesis also developed an oral soft tissue to replace the process of palatal grafting. For people with receding gums, the normal fix involves taking pieces of the palate and grafting them into the gum to replace the tissue. The process is just as painful as it sounds, you get two wounds for the price of one graft. Plus it usually involves multiple surgical procedures since the palate is so small. In response, Organogenesis introduced the Gintuit. The Gintuit is made of isolated living cells from human skin and grown with bovine collagen. This enables the doctor to have enough tissue to replace a large section of gum without having to cut the palate and keeps the patient from enduring multiple long and painful procedures.

In addition to these products, Organogenesis developed technology for the transportation of their products. In order to ensure the best results they, like Wendy’s, ensure their Apligraf and Gintuit are “fresh never frozen.”  Organogenesis gets their products around the world by the next day while maintaining the body’s natural temperature for optimum cell life. Even better than that, when kept at body temperature the shelf life of these products is an amazing ten days. Other like products are shipped frozen and doctors are alerted that through the process of freezing and thawing cells, some are lost. With the Apligraf and the Gintuit, freezing and thawing are not an issue so more cells remain intact for optimum results on the patient.

With two life changing products and a revolutionary way of storing the products, Organogenesis provides a new face for regenerative medicine. Providing relief to those with chronic wounds, and giving those who need a gum graft with a less painful and invasive option, Organogenesis is giving people their lives back, and providing them with the relief they have been searching for.

Check in with us again as we continue this series with other companies like Organogenesis. Know someone who would like to be featured? Have any comments on this article? Let us know here or tweet at us @TRA360!

Lampreys: Spinal Cord Regeneration Research at the MBL

Sea Lamprey
Sea Lamprey

We’re here one more time with the Marine Biological Laboratory. We’ve already told you all about the work scientists are doing with the Xenopus, but there’s one other interesting laboratory located at the MBL, too. The lab run by Dr. Jennifer Morgan opened in June of 2012, and is studying the lamprey, the jawless fish. The lamprey is a very early evolved vertebrate with no true bones.

What’s so cool about a lamprey? If you transect the spinal cord of a lamprey, it will spontaneously regain the ability to start swimming around again. After only eleven weeks of recovery, the spinal transected lamprey looks almost exactly the same as an uninjured, control lamprey. Some marine organisms are really good at regeneration, and the lamprey specifically has a better ability to recover from spinal cord injury than a human has. Also, even though lampreys are much lower on the evolutionary ladder than we are, they are true vertebrates and they have a nervous system with features that are analogous to that found in a human.

What happens in a human when the spinal cord is cut? In humans, spinal cord injury induces damage to the neurons and glial cells in the nervous system. The glial cells form scar tissue at the injury site, and they also release molecules that tell the neurons to stop growing.  In addition, other neurons die or lose their connections, thereby paralyzing the human.  Animal models have demonstrated that if you take a peripheral nerve and create a bridge for the spinal cord neurons , the spinal cord neurons can actually grow. This means that the environment surrounding the spinal cord neurons is very important for determining whether these neurons can regenerate.  This is controlled, at least in part, by the actual gene expression.

The lamprey not only has a very similar nervous system, but the genes that it expresses are similar to that of a human.  If the gene sequences that enable regeneration can be identified in a lamprey, it is possible that they can be isolated in a human as well. Finding these key genes that support regeneration could therefore one day help those who have suffered paralyzing brain and spinal cord injuries.

Using marine models for research that could help humans is an important goal of the MBL. In the case of the Xenopus and the lamprey, the advances being made could eventually change the future of medicine. We hoped you enjoyed our mini-series on the Marine Biological Laboratory and want you to let us know your thoughts @TRA360! Keep your eyes open for more on our blog!

Xenopus: Future for Regenerative Medicine?

Have you been itching for more on the MBL? We’re back with more about the research! Today we’re looking into the research being done under Marko Horb on the Xenopus. What is a Xenopus? you may ask. A Xenopus is an aquatic frog that is helping scientists understand regeneration.

Xenopus, Marine Biological Laboratory
Xenopus, The Marine Biological Laboratory

The Xenopus possesses some regenerative capabilities, like the ability to regenerate limbs, tails, and the lens of its eye. The National Xenopus Resource at the MBL is a national stock center for the frogs and provides them to researchers, who study cellular and molecular processes in the frogs to learn how regeneration works.  The research may one day lead to understanding how regeneration might be possible in humans.

What else can you do with the frog? The Xenopus has a similar structure of liver and pancreas to that of a human. This enables researchers to look into transdifferentiation of cells. It is possible to take liver cells, which will regenerate in a human body naturally, and convert them into pancreatic cells. Right now, research is being done to explore the mechanism taken during the process of transdifferentiation so that liver cells can be directed to making specifically insulin-producing cells, known as beta cells.  The biggest struggle here is directing the cells to become only beta cells and not other pancreatic cells, such as glucagon-producing alpha cells. In the lab at the MBL, they can stain the different pancreatic cells and see what controls the production of each type of cell, however the struggle will be finding the exact pathway to insulin-producing cells and creating a way to always have it follow this path in the future.  Using liver cells instead of stem cells or injecting insulin has the potential to save the lives of diabetics. In the future, once this process is set, diabetics might have the ability to go in once a year, have a small piece of their liver removed and converted to insulin cells that will last them the rest of the year instead of injecting insulin on a daily basis.

Come back next time and learn about the work done by Jennifer Morgan at the MBL on lampreys! Let us know what you think @TRA360!