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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
5-May-2014

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Contact: Katie Cinnamond Benoit
katherine.cinnamond@tufts.edu
617-627-4703
Tufts University
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Tufts University licenses silk biomaterials technology to Akeso Biomedical

IMAGE: This is a generic silk cocoon photo, showing silk worm cocoons from which the silk protein is extracted.

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MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. Tufts University today announced that it has licensed a novel silk technology for the treatment of chronic skin wounds to Akeso Biomedical, Inc., an early stage medical device company. The technology was invented by David L. Kaplan, Ph.D., Stern Family Professor of Engineering at Tufts University, and his team of researchers at Tufts' School of Engineering.

Akeso hopes that the new silk technology will be able to improve wound healing in patients with leg ulcers and diabetic ulcers, where there is a significant, unmet need. Each year millions of Americans seek treatment for these chronic wounds, and many remain unhealed even after six months of treatment.

The significant advantages of the Tufts technology include the ability to control the rate of degradation of the silk, and produce silk solutions that can be processed into different formats from water, including films and sponges, and used to deliver active agents that can speed healing. Akeso joins a growing number of promising new silk technology based ventures spun out by Tufts Tech Transfer in the Office for Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration.

"We're looking forward to the transition of this silk technology from our laboratories to the clinic and commercial products. We believe this is an exciting biomedical application for this technology, which leverages the unique properties of this protein-based biomaterial in new ways," said Kaplan, who chairs the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts and also holds additional Tufts appointments in the Department of Chemistry, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences and School of Dental Medicine.

Tufts University, Tufts Medical Center and Akeso plan to collaborate on the clinical development of the new silk-based products. Mark Iafrati, M.D., chief of vascular surgery at Tufts Medical Center, will lead the pre-clinical effort.

"I'm very pleased to be working with this exciting technology because it has the potential to address a very significant problem in healthcare, by providing a much-needed treatment for those patients with hard-to-heal chronic wounds," said Iafrati.

Said Simon Williams, CEO of Akeso, "I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with David Kaplan and Mark Iafrati on this exciting project, and look forward to developing new products that can help the many people who suffer from treatment-resistant wounds."

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About Tufts University School of Engineering

Located on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus, the Tufts University School of Engineering offers a rigorous engineering education in a unique environment that blends the intellectual and technological resources of a world-class research university with the strengths of a top-ranked liberal arts college. Close partnerships with Tufts' excellent undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, coupled with a long tradition of collaboration, provide a strong platform for interdisciplinary education and scholarship. The School of Engineering's mission is to educate engineers committed to the innovative and ethical application of science and technology in addressing the most pressing societal needs, to develop and nurture twenty-first century leadership qualities in its students, faculty, and alumni, and to create and disseminate transformational new knowledge and technologies that further the well-being and sustainability of society in such cross-cutting areas as human health, environmental sustainability, alternative energy, and the human-technology interface. For more information, visit http://engineering.tufts.edu.

About Tufts Medical Center

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of nearly 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit http://www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.

About Akeso

Akeso is an early stage medical device company focused on the treatment of hard to heal skin ulcers. These ulcers afflict several million Americans each year, and often remain unhealed after six months of treatment. The company is developing products to treat these wounds using a new silk biomaterial technology exclusively licensed from Tufts University. The silk implants are expected to provide scaffolds for tissue in-growth, and will be designed to encourage vascularization, and control bioburden, destructive enzymes, and moisture levels. The new silk technology provides improvements in processing, allows the rate of degradation of the silk implant to be fine-tuned to the specific clinical need, as well as delivery of active agents from the implant to the wound. Akeso is a VIC Technology Venture Development portfolio company. For more information please send inquiries to contact@akesobiomedical.com.



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