ISCT is here: How and Where to Meet Akron

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The 20th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Cellular Therapy starts next week, April 23 and runs through April 26, 2014 at Le Palais des Congrès in Paris, France. Beyond the science, the many scientific sessions, symposia and industry presentations, there will be many opportunities to interact with Akron, meet us and learn more about our latest research and products. Here is a roundup of some of the opportunities to interact with us:

- Akron’s CEO, Dr. Claudia Zylberberg, will take part in a panel on Quality and Operations titled “Ancillary Materials for Cellular Therapies” on Thursday April 24th from 3:30 – 5:00 PM together with panelists from MD Anderson, USP and Stem Cell Technologies.

- The next day, Friday April 24th, Dr. Zylberberg will chair the plenary session “State of the Industry: Past, Present and Future” with speakers from Organogenesis, Cell Therapy Catapult and Celgene. The session runs from 1:45 - 3:15 PM in Amphitheatre Bordeaux.

- Akron will exhibit throughout the conference in booth #47. We will have extensive literature on hand about our new products and research, and the booth will be staffed by our friendly Akron team ready to discuss how our custom cell therapy solutions and capabilities can be of help to your research and production needs. Stop by anytime.

- Finally, Akron will present new research on novel, DMSO-free cryopreservation media during the scientific poster session. Our poster number is #350. Visit us during Poster Session 2, April 25, 2014 from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM.

Not going to ISCT?

If you are missing ISCT, don’t fret. Another opportunity to meet Akron will come at the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Vancouver in June. More details to follow soon. And if all else fails, we are always a phone call or email away, so contact us anytime.

Akron Biotech Awarded SBIR Grant for Development of Novel Method to Isolate Adipose Derived Stem Cells

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[Press release from]

Akron Biotech, an innovative biotech company focused on serving the growing demands of the cell therapy industry, is pleased to announce it was awarded a Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop enzyme-based formulations for the isolation of stem cells from various tissues. The project is in collaboration with Dr. Gregg Fields, Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, and will involve the use of novel engineered enzyme formulations to improve viability and quality of isolated stem cells with no toxicities.

The Phase I project proposes an alternative to develop and use optimal formulations of a family of novel engineered enzymes capable of catalyzing the degradation of virtually all extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with the goal of liberating viable stem cells with good and stable proliferative capabilities. The overall impact is also significant for the future treatment of a broad array of tissues.

The project, conducted in collaboration with the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, will involve studies directed toward the commercialization of the product. Akron Biotech will manufacture and commercialize kits for tissue dissociation and develop further therapeutic applications for a wide variety of diseases.

“We are pleased to have been awarded this grant as it will allow us to significantly advance the isolation of stem cells that are crucially necessary for the treatment of a variety of acute diseases. This is a critical step toward improving healthcare and advancing cell therapies,” said Claudia Zylberberg, PhD., Founder and CEO of Akron Biotech.

“We are excited about this Phase I SBIR award from the NIH, as it validates the significance of the technology we are developing,” stated Gregg Fields. “This work with Akron Biotech is perfectly aligned with Torrey Pines Institute’s mission to improve human health through innovation and advanced technologies.”

About Akron Biotech

Akron Biotech is an innovative biotechnology company headquartered in South Florida, U.S., with a strategic focus on supplying GMP-qualified raw materials and services to the regenerative medicine industry. As a global supplier, Akron manufactures a range of products for cell therapy discovery, development and commercialization. As an ISO 9001-certified company, Akron supports clients with rigorous documentation and quality standards to fulfill their regulatory demands.

About Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies is a 501(c)(3) research center dedicated to conducting basic research to advance the understanding of human disease and the improvement of human health.

Scientists conduct research in fields associated with a wide variety of major medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, Types I and II diabetes, macular degeneration, pain management, Alzheimer’s, inflammatory disorders, AIDS and other infectious diseases, regenerative medicine, obesity, transplant rejection, muscle wasting syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and new methods for drug discovery.

About SBIR

For more information, visit



Akron Biotech
Sonia Suarez, 561-750-6120

From research to market, in cell therapy the right partner is key

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Remarkable discoveries in regenerative medicine happen almost on a daily basis.  Just last week, for instance, scientists at the University of Edinburgh reported that they were able to regenerate the thymus in an aging mouse.  If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you will notice that every week we attempt to report on some of the more interesting discoveries in the field, both in the clinical as well as the research arena. Yet, we manage to barely scrape the surface. While some of these discoveries eventually make it to market, many stall long before.

The complexity of developing regenerative medicine products requires expertise beyond the lab bench. To meet the needs and requirements of the novel therapeutic models that regenerative medicine develops, partnerships across all aspects of product and process development are of paramount importance. Akron’s application-specific skills and functionality, combined with manufacturing capabilities that are among the industry’s most advanced, enable us to deliver complete packaged solutions. To advance the rapidly growing cell therapy industry, Akron has in place systems to provide our clients support with product development, raw materials qualification, logistics and packaging optimization, bioassay design, validation and regulatory services.

Akron is an active member of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote public policies, initiatives and programs—funding, legislative,  regulatory, technical, reimbursement and other—to facilitate the development and advancement of regenerative medicine technologies.

Our expertise across product development and qualification enables us to fully understands the nuances of the many that operational challenges and offer tailored solutions to improve operational efficiencies of our partners’ development programs.

From research and development through to clinical trials, we pride ourselves of being a one-stop solutions provider with the know-how to improve the market potential of our partner’s development products.

If you would like to talk more about your application and how Akron can help, visit us at the International Society for Cellular Therapy, Booth #47, in Paris, France from April 23-26, 2014. Click here to set up an appointment or just stop by.


This week in cell therapy news: From stem cell renewal to differentiation in one step; Meet Akron at ISCT

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This week, we highlight a new study that has the potential to significantly simplify stem cell manufacturing for therapy, and the upcoming ISCT conference which Akron will take part in.

Stem Cells: From expansion to differentiation in a single step

The production of stem cells for use in cell therapy is a two stage process: Cells are first expanded in culture, and then differentiated into functional cells or tissues. Traditionally, each of these steps requires a separate microenvironments and has been, as a result, done in separate media conditions. This has also been one of the major bottlenecks in the large scale production of cells for therapy due to need forof separate microenvironments for both processes. This may, however, change if a new study is to go by. A team of researchers at The University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy has created a novel biomaterial with a dual role: to allow for both the self-renewal of stem cells and their differentiation into cardiomyocytes from the same material.

The breakthrough scaffold biomaterial is based on a mixture of collagen and alginate: the alginate-rich part allows for the proliferation of cells. By then chelating calcium ions when the cells have expanded sufficiently, the environment becomes collagen-rich. This change triggers the cells to begin differentiating into tissue. The authors triggered induced pluripotent stem cells to differentiate into cardiomyocytes (heart cells). By modifying the medium, it will be possible to alter the efficiency of differentiation.

The study is of note because it introduces a brand new biomaterial concept that has the potential to truly simplify the way stem cells are obtained for therapy. The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Akron to attend ISCT

Here is an opportunity to meet Akron, interact with us and learn about our new products: Akron will attend the 20th International Society for Cell Therapy Annual Meeting to be held in Paris April 23rd to April 26th, 2014. Together with presenting some of our recent research, Akron will host a booth where we will feature all of our products and highlight some new additions to our cell therapy and research lineup. Make sure to look for us and stop by to chat (we may have chocolates). More details to come in the coming weeks. If you would like to schedule an appointment in advance, contact us here.

The Past, Present and Future of Cell Therapies: Podcast with Akron’s Claudia Zylberberg

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At the ISCT 2014 meeting in Paris at the end of next month, Akron Biotech CEO Dr. Claudia Zylberberg will co-host a plenary session panel on the past, present and future of cell therapies. In advance of the meeting, the International Society of Cell Therapy interviewed Dr. Zylberberg for their Pre-Event Podcast series, in which Dr. Zylberberg discusses the current regulatory and clinical state of cell therapies, including raw materials quality, in process controls, logistics, business modelsas well as the current regulatory climate including funding.

Listen to the informative podcast here.

For more information and to listen to Dr. Zylberberg speak at ISCT, she will participate in the panel “Ancillary Materials for Cellular Therapies” on Thursday April 24th.

The International Society of Cellular Therapy 20th Annual Meeting takes place in Paris from April 23 – 26, 2014. Register to attend here.

Scaffolds and robots? The exciting potential of regenerative medicine

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Catherine Mohr, director of medical research at Intuitive Surgical, recently spoke to Wired about her company’s technology: surgeon-controlled robots for operating rooms. The telemanipulators, as she calls them, are robotic surgical hands that assist surgeons in performing surgery, particularly helpful during very precise and complex procedures.

Dr. Mohr envisaged the technology going beyond traditional surgeries and developing synergystically with new advances in regenerative medicine, particularly new biomaterials and scaffolds. Whether this is means robots will be implanting collagen scaffolds into patients soon is another story, but it may be a reality that’s slightly less science fiction than it sounds.

Just like Dr. Terry Riss, senior product specialist, Cell Health at Promega Corp, explained in a recent webinar, Overview of 3D Cell Culture Model Systems & Validating Cell-based Assays for Use with 3D Cultures, there are still a lot of challenges that we are facing when developing functional biological scaffold systems, primarily stemming from the complex technical nature of the tissues created through 3D cultures, which are often either biologically incomplete or not sufficiently robust. Such considerations, when dealing with 3D scaffolds, often involve the material used (for example, alginate vs collagen) and how this will translate into functional, implantable systems.

Such considerations are familiar to scientists working on developing 3D scaffolds systems. A step closer to full biocompatibility and uniformity came a few weeks ago, when Feng Zhao of Michigan Technological University developed a fully natural, uniform and highly aligned 3D matrix made entirely of – and by – fibroblasts. The study was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. The scientists made highly aligned nano­fibrous ECM scaffolds by directing human dermal fibroblasts to grow on synthetic nanogratings. In doing so, they obtained a uniform fibroblast cell sheet with highly aligned cells and ECM nanofibers. They further showed that these scaffolds are fully functional by successfully expanding human mesenchymal stem cells. You can download the study here.

So will robots be implanting 3D scaffolds into patients during transplant surgery? It’s unlikely we will be seeing this in the foreseeable future. However, what a decade ago was but a potential script of a science fiction film is slowly shifting to being a reality that, though distant, is not so impossible to imagine anymore.

There is no doubt that regenerative medicine is in an exciting place right now. If you’re curious about scaffolds, the extracellular matrix, or how any of this works, you can talk to us. Akron has been developing and researching a range of 3D scaffolds, including electrospun polymeric nanofibers, for a long time, and we are excited to be part of this rapidly growing field. Contact us to talk.

From cell to bone: In osteogenesis, vitronectin matters

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We have, in the past, introduced fibronectin’s less known extracellular matrix sibling, vitronectin. While vitronectin traditionally doesn’t get as much press, its function warrants just as much attention. New studies – and new work from our labs – prompted us to highlight some of vitronectin’s important roles in cell adhesion, migration and differentiation and highlight its critical role in tissue regeneration.

We are not the only ones to tout its important cellular functions: Not only is vitronectin important in differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into large-scale motor neurons (Qu et al., Nature Comm, 5(3349), 2014), but it has significant implications in tissue engineered products, particularly regenerative orthopedics.

Case in point: Mesenchymal stem cells, owing to their good differentiation potential towards cartilage, tendon and bone cells, are critical cellular components in orthopedic implants. Indeed, interactions between mesenchymal stem cells and implants are critically important for successful osteointegration. At the heart of this process is successful cell adhesion to the implant, which includes binding of ligands from the extracellular matrix, one of them being vitronectin. Vitronectin is one of the important ECM biomimetic signals, together with fibronectin and osteocalcin, that is thought to promote cell survival during the osteogenesis process.

That is why vitronectin is often found as a critical component of osteogenesis differentiation media.  Yet not all vitronectins are created equal: optimal activity is achieved with pure vitronectin in its fully active form.

So where do you start? At Akron, we are constantly improving our vitronectin manufacturing process to deliver the best possible product. From supplying human vitronectin to developing biological assays, we provide support and know-how across the entire development process. Contact us and let’s talk.