Reflecting on 2014: A Year of Many Firsts

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Another year comes to a close: As we prepare to usher in 2015, we want to take a moment (or this blog entry at least) to reflect on the year that was. While year-end posts may tend to come across as self-serving celebrations of one’s achievements, it is no understatement to say that 2014 was a truly significant year for Akron Biotech.

There will be many reasons to remember it: This was a year of growth, a year of discoveries and new milestones, a year of incredible leaps. At the same time, it was also a year of rediscovering our core values and our true competencies and building up on them for a stronger path forward.

What, then, were some of the reasons we will remember 2014 for?

One of the major milestones in Akron’s history occurred when we announced the expansion to a new, larger facility earlier this year. The facility, which contains several class 10,000 and class 100 clean rooms among cell culture laboratory space and is one of the largest of its kind in Florida, allows Akron to significantly expand R&D as well as its manufacturing operations for regulated products for academic and industry clients from both the U.S. and abroad.

This occurred on the heels of Akron being named as one of 50 Florida companies to watch by GrowFL, which awards leading second-stage companies across the entire state of Florida. The winners were picked from a pool of over 500 nominations, and we are honored to have been selected as one of the recipients.

Earlier this year, Akron also launched Matrixyme I, the first in a series of industry-first enzyme solutions for tissue dissociation. Unlike currently available products on the market which are largely based on Collagenases derived from Clostridium histolyticum, Matrixyme I is not derived from Clostridium and is considered much safer and functionally more efficient. Based on recombinant enzymes, Matrixyme I is a disruptive new solution and marks Akron’s entry into the tissue dissociation market.

Matrixyme was launched on the heels of an SBIR Phase I grant, which Akron was awarded in collaboration with the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Sciences earlier in the year. The grant, for the development of novel recombinant enzymatic tissue dissociation solutions, is a testament to Akron’s ongoing committment to cutting-edge research.

Innovative research and discovery are part of Akron’s DNA. Dissemination of our research findings and involvement in the scientific discourse is something that we consistently strive to be a part of. This year was no different – in fact, in 2014 we increased our presence at international conferences and meetings through numerous talks, presentations and panel appearances. These included appearances at ISCT, ISSCR, World Stem Cell Summit and Termis, to name a few.

Dissemination of scientific knowledge is also in the form of publications: this year, Akron contributed authorship to three peer-reviewed manuscripts and Whitepapers which were all published in 2014.

Dr. Claudia Zylberberg, Akron’s CEO and President, has been named to board positions at the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) as treasurer as well as the National Blood Foundation (NBF).

This year, we also launched something entirely new: our first-ever webinar series. Our webinars are free educational platforms on select topics in regenerative medicine focused on the newest developments in the field, based on Akron’s expertise and research efforts. We started with two distinct topics, Fibronectin and 3D Nanofiber scaffolds, and plan to expand the series throughout 2015.

2015 was a year, as you can tell, of many firsts: Alongside Matrixyme, we also launched CryoNovo, our new series of DMSO-free cryopreservation media. The flagship product in the series, CryoNovo P24, is a DMSO-free cryoprotectant solution based on naturally-occurring compounds that is safer and more efficient than traditional cryoprotectants based on DMSO alone. Because we learned that in cryopreservation, one size doesn’t fit all, P24 was joined by CryoNovo X12 – the second product in the family – for specific cells types. Work on the CryoNovo product family is ongoing: our aim is to bring optimized DMSO-free cryopreservation to every cell type. Moreover, partnerships such as that one with Vivex which we signed this year will allow us to expand the reach of our cryosolutions to new clinical applications. Cryopreservation is a significant area of growth for Akron – and one that will continue to be of interest throughout 2015 and beyond.

Finally, we concluded the year with a successful Stage 1 ISO-13485 audit,  another milestone that will undoubtedly help Akron soar to new regulatory heights as we build a stronger, better and ever-innovative Akron Biotech in the years to come.

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