The human body makes two billion blood cells every day and production of these cells is dependent on a very small number of haemopoiteic stem cells. Unsurprisingly, the quest to make more haemopoiteic stem cells has become a major goal for medical researchers, since traditional treatments for diseases such as leukemia involve high doses of chemotherapy which destroy bone marrow stem cells.
Innovative biotechnology company, Cytomatrix, is currently involved in the development and commercialisation of powerful new medical therapies which are based on the use of stem cell technologies. According to Cytomatrix Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mark Kirkland, ‘the problem is, there is a limited number of stem calls – which means the holy grail is to find ways of making more of them.’
Established in 2004 and subsequently restructured in 2007, Cytomatrix’s core technology is the development of a closed system cell culture device for haemopoietic stem cell expansion plus a range of other applications. To achieve this, the company is developing a biocompatible three-dimensional macroporous polymeric cell-growth scaffold to be used as both a system for cell selection and cell expansion and as a platform for enhanced cell growth. The aim is to develop a ‘scaffold in a bag’ – that is, a closed system for expanding stem cells, thus avoiding the need for expensive and painful bone marrow transplants. It is envisaged that such cell therapy concepts and tissue engineering will deliver effective new therapies that use the body’s own natural cells rather than foreign chemicals and compounds.
The development of Cytomatrix’s cord blood stem cell expansion kit aims to provide sufficient stem cells for the treatment of individual patients while also reducing the time required for each treatment. Such applications represent exciting new markets for the company and it is anticipated that the kit will include a bag containing innovative, patented advanced material, three-dimensional scaffolds for stem cell attachment and patented stem cell growth stimulating products.
Cytomatrix’s research and development program, involves a partnership with Deakin University, Advanced Manufacturing CRC and VCAMM (the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing). Dr Kirkland is enthusiastic about the value of the partnership model, believing that, ‘Cytomatrix’s relationship with the AMCRC has been critical to getting the technology to where it is at the moment. Their support has enabled us to get much further down the track than we otherwise would have.’ Looking to the future he believes there are significant commercial opportunities for the Cytomatrix kit, as well as the potential for this ground-breaking biomedical concept to generate spin-offs into other areas of medicine.
AMCRC’s unique expertise and strong business focus actively assists small and medium-sized enterprises such as Cytomatrix to develop innovation mind-sets and implement strategies that will build profitable business models in next-generation manufacturing technologies, products and processes. Committed to delivering economic, environmental and social benefits, AMCRC’s partnership model brings together the best minds and greatest ideas to build a viable future for Australian manufacturing.