Stem cell “secretome” is the latest advancement in regenerative medicine. Will it become the heart of tissue regeneration? SmartTRAK interviewed Dr. Robert Keller, Ph.D, Chief Science Officer of Axolotl Biologix to learn more about the Company’s platform and future plans.
The core of regenerative medicine and leveraging the abilities of stem cells and their products to repair diseased or damaged tissues has focused in two main areas, harvesting progenitor cells and the “paracrine effect” of the stem cell secretome.
Recent studies suggest that the benefits of stem cell therapy and the underlying mechanism of repair might relate more to a paracrine modulatory effect rather than the replacement of damaged cells at the site. The secreted factors from the transplanted stems cells have been shown to trigger the patient's own cells to repair the tissue themselves.
One company that is harnessing the power of the stem cell secretome is Axolotl Biologics. Started in 2016, Axolotl Biologics offers human amnion-derived mesenchymal stromal cell (hAMSCs) conditioned medium that contains hAMSCs paracrine factors which can be used in various applications in orthopedics, wound care, pain management, ophthalmology, cardiovascular and cosmetics.
At the 6th ICRS Summit, Bio-Orthopaedics in Sports Medicine, held in San Diego, January 17 and 18, 2019, SmartTRAK caught up with Axolotl Biologix’ Chief Science Officer, Robert Keller, Ph.D. to discuss regenerative medicine and the Company’s progress.
Click on the video below to view the fascinating interview, scroll down to read a transcript of the interview or download a PDF of the interview by clicking the link below.
This is Kim French with SmartTrak reporting from the 2019 ICRS Summit. Today, I have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Robert Keller, PhD, Chief Science Officer of Axolotl. Dr. Keller, thank you for your time today.
Dr. Robert Kellar: Thank you for having me.
In 2016, the company was started and in a very short time, five amniotic tissue products have been introduced. Can you expand on why you started out with the amniotic tissue, and a little more about the latest innovation Axolotl Shot?
Dr. Robert Kellar: Absolutely. We are just under three years old, and the five products that we went to the market with first leveraged a very young, regenerative tissue. This is plentiful tissue that's available post-delivery, for the baby and the mom or together in celebrating, and that discarded tissue is a biohazard, but has a lot of regenerative potential.
The (Axolotl) Shot product represents feedback from our customers. Our physician users have told us that they really like the room temperature ambient product. It's easy to use. It's convenient. It's off the shelf. Their feedback was if you could package it in a little bit more of a convenient container, in a syringe, so that they have quicker access to utilize it in either an operating room setting or an outpatient setting.
So the Axolotl Shot product represents our continued commitment to listening to our customer base and trying to understand how we can deliver our technology in easier, more friendly, and convenient uses in the future.
The amniotic tissue market is fairly competitive. In your experience, what applications or market segments are making the most of the amniotic tissue and the regenerative properties?
Dr. Robert Kellar: So, the neat thing about the regenerative properties of amniotic tissue is there's a lot of applications that can benefit from the use of these tissue products. We focus on promoting repair and regeneration of damaged tissues, so we're seeing tremendous benefits within the wound care space, as well as in the orthopedic markets.
We also discovered that because these materials tend to lower and encourage decreased inflammation, it tends to correlate with lower pain signals. So, in the pain markets, patients that are wrestling with pain problems, chronic pain, we can lower inflammation of those tissues, and a lot of times the pain will subside.
What do you foresee for the amniotic market within the next five years?
Dr. Robert Kellar: The next five years are going to be I think very interesting. I believe that we'll see more clinical trials, more FDA oversight on clinical trials, which will be beneficial to the market, to patients, as well as physicians. They'll be a higher level of confidence in the technologies. We like to understand what the safety and efficacy profile are of these technologies when we make them available to the public. I anticipate that we're going to move in that direction as a field.
In early 2017, the Company signed an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Protein Genomic. Can you expand on this partnership and what it means to your company?
Dr. Robert Kellar: So Protein Genomics is another regenerative medicine company that we partnered with. Their technology is really focused around encouraging application discoveries of tropoelastin. Tropoelastin is a precursor protein to elastin, and elastin is a stretchy protein. It's found in skin, bladder, heart, blood vessels and bone. A lot of organs and tissues that have a stretchy component have elastin as part of their composition.
So Protein Genomics was able to sequence the gene for elastin and can express it. They can make and manufacture it in gram quantities for medical device use. By partnering with them, we have fed a pipeline of next generation technology for Axolotl Biologix. A lot of that future work is going to involve leveraging tropoelastin and finding applications where we can use it in wound care, orthopedics and cardiovascular.
Last year the Company also entered into a strategic partnership with Leonhardt Ventures to explore opportunities combining their technology with your amniotic-derived fluids. Can you provide a little more insight into that opportunity?
Dr. Robert Kellar: So Leonhardt Ventures is exploring the use of electrical current and trying to understand how we can promote healing in various complicated disease states. The relationship that we have with them is really at the R&D level, so we're learning how we can test our two products in combination. So, they might have an adjunctive or a synergistic effect when they're used in combination. It would be taking amniotic-derived tissues and regenerative medicine technology and combining it with bioelectrical impedance.
You're working on some exciting innovations. Any other R&D activities taking place?
Dr. Robert Kellar: A lot of the R&D activities that we have going on center around our tropoelastin activities, so those are the next five to ten years.
Anything else you would like to share about your company or regenerative medicine in general?
Dr. Robert Kellar: I think regenerative medicine is a really exciting field. I think we're just entering into this era, that's going to be with us for the next few decades. Understanding how to promote the body to heal itself is something that we've been fascinated about as a society for many, many years. But now, I think the technology and the science understanding has gotten to a point where we can deliver real therapeutics to help treat certain types of etiologies and disease states. I think it's an exciting time in the future.
One thing as a company that we're very encouraged about is we've recently had our products added to the government contract list, where our veteran population in government hospitals and VA hospitals have access to these regenerative products. That's a huge opportunity for us to promote availability of this technology to our veteran population.
Sounds like a lot is happening at Axolotl. I thank you for your time today and good luck.
Dr. Robert Kellar: Thank you.