June 14, 2012 | last updated June 14, 2012 11:20 am

Startup Will Commercialize WPI Technology

A microthread extrusion system developed at WPI will produce treatments for common sports injuries and heart attacks, and new ways to deliver stem cells to regenerate damaged tissues in people and animals.

A new life sciences company founded by two biomedical engineering professors at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will commercialize their biopolymer microthread technology developed in the lab.

The technology, licensed from WPI by VitaThreads LLC, produces new treatments for common sports injuries and heart attacks, and new ways to deliver stem cells to regenerate damaged tissues in people and animals.

First developed in George Pins' lab as a potential tool for repairing torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in the knee, the microthreads were adapted by him and Glenn Gaudette for use as biological sutures to deliver bone marrow to regenerate cardiac muscle damaged during a heart attack. Other WPI labs are using the threads for wound-healing and skeletal muscle regeneration, among other purposes, the school said.

"A fundamental part of our mission at WPI is to translate research into products that make a difference in the world," said David Easson, director of WPI's Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park and interim director of the university's Bioengineering Institute. "We are pleased to support this team's efforts and look forward to VitaThreads creating jobs in Central Massachusetts and bringing to the clinic innovative products that can improve people's lives."

Pins and Gaudette will serve as scientific advisors to the VitaThreads management team, which includes co-founders Adam Collette, vice president of product development, and Harry Wotton, CEO. The company will operate initially within WPI's Bioengineering Institute at Gateway Park.

VitaThreads is the second startup venture based on WPI technology for Wotten, who earned a bachelor's degree at the university. Through his WPI project work, he invented a device that improved the treatment of dogs with broken legs. He launched Securos in 1997 to build and market that device. Wotton designed several other products for the animal medicine market, from small screws to large implantable devices.

Collette holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from Tufts University. Prior to launching VitaThreads, he worked at Allergan Medical and Serica Technologies Inc. as a team leader on research and development projects, as well as in clinical trial design and management.

In May, the VitaThreads team took first place at the Massachusetts Life Sciences Innovation Day 2012, sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center. The VitaThreads technology will also be featured as part of WPI's presence at BIO2012 in Boston on June 20.

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