Partnership to Explore Fat-Derived Stem Cell Bone Grafts

Dentistry Today


Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) has invested in EpiBone Inc, a biotechnology company targeting the growth of personalized bone and cartilage grafts using stem cell technologies and 3-D imaging and designs to treat craniofacial and other defects.

This investment in a clinical-stage regenerative medicine company is HMH’s fourth through the Bear’s Den, the health network successful innovation program, HMH said.

“Our industry is going to be transformed by how we leverage cellular biology and new tissue engineering to help the body repair itself and replace damaged tissue from the impact of chronic and disabling diseases,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of HMH.

“Our goal is to back innovative evidence-based approaches and products. We are confident in the science and solutions EpiBone brings to the market,” said Garrett.

“We are proud of our work and are excited to be working more closely with Hackensack Meridian Health,” said Nina Tandon, PhD, MBA, CEO and cofounder of EpiBone.

“Our goal is to harness the power of regenerative medicine to help as many patients as possible, and having help from a world-class hospital system like Hackensack Meridian Health will only serve to expedite our work,” Tandon said.

EpiBone’s Craniomaxillofacial (EB-CMF) product is being tested in its first trials as a treatment for ramus continuity defects in the mandible. The company received Investigational New Drug clearance to proceed with a Phase I/II clinical trial of the product last May.

EM-CMF is a living, anatomically correct bone graft made from a patient’s own fat-derived stem cells. First a CT scan of the patient’s defect area leads to the creation of a bone scaffold. The patient’s fat tissue is then extracted, from which stem cells are isolated, and expanded.

The resulting cells are then seeded onto the scaffold within a bioreactor, where they are subjected to warmth, pressure, and a steady flow of nutrients, all of which coax the stem cells to differentiate into osteoblasts, which are cells that begin to lay down new bone matrix.

Once the graft has matured in the bioreactor, it is then implanted into the patient’s body, where it naturally integrates with the native bone. Pain, surgical, and hospital time all can be potentially reduced compared to other surgical options, the researchers said.

With EpiBone’s proprietary methods of creating a bespoke bone graft, the researchers added, bone missing because of genetic defects, traumatic injury, or illness can be replaced.

“I was trained to replace like with like, bone with bone. To be able to accomplish that task with the patient’s own bone without harvesting and shaping it would be ideal,” said Robert Morin, MD, a specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery at HMH.

“Technology such as EpiBone’s is tremendously exciting and will radically redefine approaches to procedures and treatments in the future,” said Morin.

“The Bear’s Den program continues to invest in exciting companies at the vanguard of medicine,” said David Perlin, PhD, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the HMC Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI).

“This kind of transformative health venture is what we envisioned when we started planning for the CDI’s Institute for Restorative Health,” said Perlin.

EpiBone is also exploring using the same technology to replace cartilage and treat osteochondral injuries, among other applications.

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