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May 12, 2016

Biostage successfully regenerates esophagus

Courtesy | Biostage

Biostage announced that it has successfully regenerated a complete section of esophagus in a large-animal study, with the results having implications for the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.

The Holliston company, formerly known as Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology, announced in a release Thursday that it had successfully regenerated a segment of esophagus in a study of its Cellspan organ implants conducted with the Mayo Clinic. The company reported that it used Cellspan esophageal implants to rebuild a section of the animal’s esophagus. The proprietary biocompatible synthetic scaffold seeded with the recipient animal's own stem cells were surgically implanted in place of an esophagus section that had been removed. The study used Yucatan Pigs as they are the most similar to humans, according to a spokesperson for Biostage.

The scaffolds, which are intended to be in place only temporarily, were later retrieved via the animal's mouth in a non-surgical endoscopic procedure. After 2.5 months, a complete epithelium and other specialized esophagus tissue layers were fully regenerated. Animals in the study demonstrated weight gain and appear healthy and free of any significant side effects, according to Biostage, including a few that are now more than 90 days post implantation, and are receiving no specialized care.

"Beyond the unparalleled evidence of tissue regeneration, we are also very encouraged that there has been no evidence of leakage or infection at the surgery sites in any of the animals studied so far. Such issues pose regular and life-threatening dangers for esophageal cancer patients surgically treated with the existing standards of care,” Saverio La Francesca, M.D., chief medical officer of Biostage, said in a statement.

Prior organ implant technologies sought to incorporate the scaffold into the body wherein the surrounding native tissue would grow into, or incorporate, the scaffold. However this approach was challenged by the body's immune response, creating significant complications, according to Biostage.

Dennis Wigle, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery and Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Mayo Clinic, and La Francesca are principal investigators for the study. They intend to publish images and details of the study in a peer-reviewed scientific publication.

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