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U.S. Department of Commerce’s ATP awards Tepha $2 million for development of cardiovascular tissue engineered products.

From The National Institute of Science and Technology
Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease Using Tissue Engineering

Develop novel elastic biomaterial scaffolds seeded with a patient’s own cells to engineer structures (valves, vessel, patches) for use in repair of damaged cardiovascular tissue.

Sponsor: Tepha, Inc.
840 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

  • Project duration: 11/1/2002 – 10/31/2005
  • Total project (est.): $3,016,760.00
  • Requested ATP funds: $2,000,000.00

More than 60 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is the nation’s number one cause of death and drains the economy of nearly $300 billion annually in treatment costs and lost productivity and future earnings. To provide better treatment options and reduce costs, Tepha Inc. plans a three-year project to develop and test novel elastic biomaterial scaffolds seeded with a patient’s own cells and used to repair or restore defective cardiovascular tissues. The company will make the scaffolds out of polymeric biomaterials using a technology that can be tailored to meet specific requirements invented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During the project, methods for isolating and culturing immature cells from a sample of animal blood will be developed. The scaffolds will be seeded with these cells, grown in culture, and implanted into the animal to guide and support formation of new cardiovascular tissue. Over time, the scaffold is expected to be completely absorbed by the body. Tepha will refine the biomaterials to meet stringent requirements of strength, elasticity and degradation rate, optimize the scaffold design and fabrication to improve its performance and reproducibility, and develop methods for growing the engineered products before implantation. The scaffolds will be evaluated both in vitro and in animal models. Subcontractors include Children’s Hospital (Boston, Mass.), which will develop cell culture techniques and perform implantation studies; MIT (Cambridge, Mass.), which will assist in materials development; the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.), which will conduct biomechanical studies on the devices; and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, Mass.), which will characterize the cardiovascular tissues. The ATP funding is needed because Tepha is a small company with limited resources, and the research involves too much risk and too long a time frame for private investors. The new technologies could be used to make cardiovascular products, such as patches, heart valves, and vascular grafts that are durable, tailored to individual patients, and possibly able to grow as young patients mature. The project also could eliminate the need for repeat surgeries, anticoagulant or immunosuppressive therapy, and invasive tissue harvesting procedures to obtain cells. The new biomaterials and cell-based technologies also are expected to be useful in other areas of tissue engineering, drug delivery, orthopedics, and wound management.

For project information:
Dr. David P. Martin, 617-492-0505 x214

ATP Project Manager
Mrinal K. Dewanjee, (301) 975-3984