Nearly twenty years ago, Dr. Marc Hedrick at Cytori Therapeutics predicted that in years to come humans would someday donate their adult stem cells from fat tissue the way blood was, and is, donated today in order to cure diseases.
Fast forward to 2019 and Dr. Jeffrey Gimble, CEO of LaCell is doing just that and more.
The company he founded, LaCell LLC, is a private firm comprised of several stem cell researchers based out of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The seven staff members are passionate about the clinical translation of stem cell research and Regenerative Medicine, as evidenced by their extensive research and innovation.
The company specializes in the production of premium quality stem cells, testing reagents and culture media for scientific investigators in academic laboratories and for biotechnology companies worldwide, offering the highest quality premium stem cells, culture media, testing reagents, and contract research services.
“We are dedicated to improving the scientific community’s knowledge about stem cells. And our research is highly cited and addresses important issues in tissue engineering, Regenerative Medicine, stem cell characterization, and even the creation of a new and improved in vitro adipocyte model,” explained Dr. Gimble.
Dr. Gimble’s professional career has focused on the isolation, characterization, and clinical translation of stromal/stem cells from adipose tissue, bone, and bone marrow, resulting in more than 200 published manuscripts. Together with his co-founder, Dr. Xiying Wu, he began LaCell to provide expertise to the broader academic and biotech research communities.
“Understanding the complexities of stem cell biology is crucial to knowing how to use them most effectively. We have performed several studies analyzing how donor age, protein expression, and cryopreservation affect stem cell’s ability to be used therapeutically,” explained Gimble.
With funding through a Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIH), LaCell has performed in-house discovery research that has generated “proof of principle” data documenting the potential safety and efficacy of adipose-derived cells in the treatment of pressure injuries in an accepted murine model. Pressure injuries, also known as pressure ulcers, are a common but under-studied surgical problem. Elderly nursing home patients and paraplegics/quadraplegics are at especially high risk for developing pressure injuries. The treatment of this disorder has been estimated to cost the U.S. health care economy $26.8 billion USD (2016) and accounts for up to 4% of the health care expenditures in developed nations such as the Netherlands. LaCell plans to extend its studies through an FDA approved Investigational Device Exemption clinical trial in collaboration with its strategic partner, Tissue Genesis (Houston TX and Honolulu HI).
In 1999, Dr. Gimble left a long career in academia to join Zen-Bio as its Director of Tissue Engineering. Then in 2000 he co-founded Artecel Sciences, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer and whose mission was to develop tissue engineering products based on the use of human adipose-derived stem cells. After the sale of the company in 2003, Gimble joined the Pennington Biomedical Research Center where he remained on faculty until 2013 as a tenured Professor developing methods for the isolation and characterization of adipose derived stem cells for regenerative medicine. Finally in 2010, he co-founded LaCell to deliver premium quality human stem cell products to research laboratories.
LaCell’s co-founder, Dr. Xiying Wu received her M.D. from the Norman Bethun Medical University in Changchun, China. After one year of clinical training, Dr. Wu decided to pursue a research pathway, immigrated to the United States, and began working on stromal/stem cells with Dr. Gimble in 1991. Wu has worked in stromal/stem cell research in and out of academia, and has co-authored over 50 manuscripts. In 2012, she moved to a full-time position as Vice President of Research & Development at LaCell LLC. Dr. Wu plays an integral role in determining LaCell’s commercial and scientific direction.
“We learned about ARMI from another Member, Nina Tandon PhD MBA, at Epibone and then had the opportunity to speak with ARMI’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Dr. Richard McFarland, after which we felt we had a good synergistic fit with the mission and other Member companies,” said Gimble.
LaCell has deep experience in cell culture, staining and cell differentiation protocols with over 70 years in R&D and would like to assist ARMI members with their needs.
“Through our membership in ARMI we hope to gain value by attending the collaborative Summits as a place in which to learn more about all the R&D going on in Regenerative Medicine and to understand the next set of products needed,” said Gimble, adding, “We want to ensure that the products we deliver are of value to the ARMI membership.”
Gimble outlined his view of the long-term for the industry this way, “Our and the industry’s goal for the future should be to make certain that patients, doctors, and insurance companies see the value and select these as real, credible treatments for disease and ARMI can help us all be transparent in that process.”