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New Member Spotlight: Vericel

Vericel has been driving innovation since the company formed (as Biosurface Technology in the late 1980s) based on technology developed by Dr. Howard Green at MIT and Harvard Medical School. Vericel develops, manufactures, and markets autologous cell-based therapies for patients with serious diseases and conditions in sport medicine and severe burn cases and is a leader in the development of autologous cell therapies to repair or restore damaged tissues or organs.

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“Dr. Green was the first to culture human cells in a laboratory setting for therapeutic use and was one of the founding fathers of stem-cell research and regenerative medicine,” said John Duguid, Senior Director, Research & Development Vericel, adding, “Vericel has driven innovation since the company formed based on the technology developed by Dr. Green, which was later commercialized as Epicel® .”

Vericel markets two cell therapy products in the United States: MACI® (autologous cultured chondrocytes on porcine collagen membrane) a third generation cellularized scaffold product indicated for the repair of single or multiple symptomatic, full-thickness cartilage defects of the knee and Epicel® (cultured epidermal autografts) used in life-saving permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns. The Cambridge, MA firm recently announced that it has acquired the license to commercialize the burn care product, NexoBrid®, in North America from MediWound Ltd, based in Yavne, Israel.

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The company received the first FDA BLA approval for a cell therapy product in 1997 with Carticel® (autologous cultured chondrocytes). 

 “Our company also manufactured clinical trial materials for numerous cell-based clinical trials in the early 2000s and we pioneered rapid microbiology testing critical to therapies with short shelf lives with the first approved rapid sterility and real-time PCR mycoplasma tests for product release,” he said recounting Vericel’s milestones.

“Vericel’s Sr. Director of R&D learned about ARMI and its mission at the BioProcess International Conference and Exhibition during Biotech Week Boston in September 2017 and from one of ARMI’s Technical Project Managers, who was previously a scientist at Vericel that reconnected us with ARMI in 2018,” Duguid said as he explained how Vericel learned about ARMI, adding, “Industry can be slow to adopt new technology due to real and perceived risks of regulatory hurdles, especially if conventional technology is already part of an approved application.”

Vericel sees the mission of ARMI as important because bringing together industrial, academic, and regulatory partners will facilitate rapid development, adoption, and approval of new technologies and the company hopes to gain access to innovative technologies that affect the industry as well as influence the selection of those projects with the potential to have maximum impact.

 “We hope to bring the insight of a commercial-stage cell therapy company and decades of collective experience by participating in ARMI projects,” Duguid concluded.