UM research lands stem cell deal
After 15 years of University of Miami research on a unique adult bone marrow-derived stem cell and on a process that leaves the cell in a relatively pure form, the university and its tissue bank have partnered with a Marietta, GA, biomedical company to make the stem cell – called the MIAMI cell – commercially available in July.
Vivex Biomedical Inc. invested in the research and development of the cell and licensed the technology from UM for orthopedic use, said company President and CEO Tracy S. Anderson. Vivex has contracted with the university’s tissue bank to develop the cell for commercial use. The company will pay an undisclosed royalty to UM from sales.
Dr. H. Thomas Temple, professor of orthopedics, vice chair of orthopedic surgery and director of the University of Miami Tissue Bank, said South Florida is a viable market for the MIAMI cell.
“Just in bone [regeneration] alone there’s an enormous market, and then if you take into consideration all the joint dysfunction that occurs with aging – we have a significantly aged population,” he said. “If you think about the number of trauma cases we have down here where patients have open fractures, I think this has enormous potential.”
Not a lot of companies, Dr. Temple said, are keen on investing in stem cells.
“A lot of big companies don’t want to take the risk on stem cells because they don’t understand it, and they’re making a lot of money on other things,” he said. “The university doesn’t have the financial resources to do the development work. They [UM] do a great job of investigating and researching these things, but the development side takes a lot of capital.… In order to have a successful product, not only does it have to be really good, you have to have a successful market, so they [Vivex] bring in the distribution.”
The marrow-isolated adult multi-lineage inducible cell, or MIAMI cell, is unique on two fronts. It’s highly inducible and potent partially because it shares genes with embryonic stem cells, and the process used to isolate it allows for the infusion of a purer MIAMI cell concentration.
Generally in other processes, when stem cells are infused, they come with other cells that “may be synergistic but more likely antagonistic,” Dr. Temple said.
“It’s a small percentage of that actual layer that are actually stem cells. It may be effective, but this is different,” he said. “When we provide the cells, we can tell you that 95% of them are really MIAMI cells. Once they’re thawed, 97% to 98% of them are viable. It’s really the process that makes them different.”
While no severe consequences have been reported from infusion of other cells along with stem cells, patients could get inflammation, Dr. Temple said.
As part of the process of isolating MIAMI cells, researchers put all the bone-marrow-extracted cells in a low-oxygen selective medium where the MIAMI cell thrives, unlike most other cells.
Even though starting this summer the MIAMI cells will be commercialized only for orthopedic use, Dr. Temple said these cells are so robust that under certain circumstances they can also form nerves, cartilage and skin.