Located in Waltham, MA, Histogenics is a pioneer in the biotechnology field of regenerative medicine.
Our visit was amazing - Prep parent and Histogenics Chief Technology Officer Steve Kennedy gave us his afternoon, and volunteered several of his colleagues! Together, they gave our group an inside look at the people who make this startup company work, the scientific and engineering hurdles they have had to overcome, a look at the business side of the company's operation in addition to teaching us about the entire field of regenerative medicine.
On the right, you'll see a sample of NeoCart - Histogenic's main product. Unlike current surgical procedures like micro-fracture or knee replacement, which only last for 10-20 years, NeoCart is like inserting brand-new tissue into the body. Patients undergo a biopsy, pulling out some healthy cartilage from their knee. Histogenics then cleans and clones these cells, and implants them into a special matrix they've built. After growing and treating the cells in several particular ways, the matrix patch can be shaped by a surgeon, and implanted into the person's knee. Unlike any current methods, this technique will literally re-set the clock on that tissue. So far, clinical trials have gone very well, and the company is looking for more patients in its scale-up to larger sized business operations.
Also on the right, Mrs. Erwin runs the histology microscope, James gets a lesson on cell types, Sparrow, Robbie and Mattheus listen to Dr. Shortcroff, who explains how the company gets cartilage cells to bond to bone. Also, Dan explains how he checks samples for proper growth, Sparrow digs purple gloves, and Jack checks out a slide of stuff you should never breathe. (Cleanliness is super-important, we learned. Biologists like Mike and Stephanie do biological cultures in every room regularly to make sure that the clean rooms really are clean.)
A special thanks to Mr. Kennedy for setting up such a wide-ranging visit, to CEO Adam Gridley, Michael Healy and Stephanie Woodall from Quality Control, Dan Ritchie from QC microbiology, Dr. Sonya Shortkroff (R&D), Jim Krom (Biomaterials), Caroline Dugopolski (Technical Opertions) and Eric Blahut (Manufacturing). You made it a great and educational visit!