2017 - 2018
The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project relates to the development of cellular products with therapeutic value. Human cells extracted from a donor can be grown in a dish, reprogrammed to gain new functionalities, and injected into a patient to replace or repair damaged and diseased tissues. This therapeutic approach can be used in a variety of organ regeneration and wound healing procedures. For instance, cultured cells can be transplanted into patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy so as to replenish their bone marrow. Cells can also be injected into the heart of patients who have suffered a heart attack so as to repair scarred tissue. Moreover, patients who have suffered a spinal cord injury may regain mobility upon injection of cultured nerve cells at the site of damage. Additionally, this approach provides the means to generate large supplies of blood for transfusions, thereby diminishing reliance on donors.This I-Corps project is based on a technology that can help generate human cells that are safer for clinical use than the cells currently available. In particular, many clinical applications currently require cells to be genetically modified. The core technology of this I-Corps project allows the manipulation of cells without the need for genetic modifications, thereby opening the full commercial potential of cellular products. This technology relies on a cell delivery approach that allows the introduction of molecules inside cells that, until now, could not enter cells. With this innovative technology, and by using new cell-reprogramming molecules, the conventional use of DNA-modifying approaches can be circumvented. Therefore, cells can now be manipulated in a novel manner to achieve improved therapeutic capabilities while avoiding genetic modifications and minimizing safety risks.