News Release 

Tissue, scaffold technologies provide new options for breast cancer, other diseases

Purdue University

Research News

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - New technology from Purdue University innovators may help improve tissue restoration outcomes for people with breast cancer and other diseases or traumatic injuries.

Purdue researchers, along with fellowship-trained breast surgeon Carla Fisher of Indiana University School of Medicine, teamed up with Purdue startup GeniPhys to develop and perform preclinical studies on a regenerative tissue filler.

This is a first-of-a-kind, in situ scaffold-forming collagen. When applied as a filler for soft tissue defects and voids, it shows promise for accelerating and improving tissue restoration outcomes. The team's work is published in Scientific Reports.

"It would assist in maintaining the quality of life and emotional well-being of millions of breast cancer survivors each year worldwide," said Sherry Harbin, a professor in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

The innovators in Harbin's lab designed and patented the collagen polymer used for this technology. A video of the technology is available here. Harbin founded GeniPhys, a Purdue startup focused on the commercialization of the collagen polymer technology.

"Such an approach may also benefit other patient populations in need of soft tissue restoration or reconstruction, including children with congenital defects, individuals with difficult-to-heal skin ulcers, individuals suffering from traumatic injuries and cancer patients requiring resection of tumors within tissues other than breast."

A National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I award to GeniPhys supported the preclinical validation studies performed by the team, which included biomedical engineers from Purdue's Weldon School and a fellowship-trained breast surgeon from Indiana University School of Medicine. Jeannie Plantenga and Abigail Cox from Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine also were part of the team.

The regenerative tissue filler, when applied to breast tissue voids, such as those associated with breast conserving surgery, restored breast shape and consistency and supported new breast tissue formation over time, including mammary glands, ducts and adipose tissue. The filler also helped avoid wound contraction and scar formation, which can be painful for patients and contribute to breast deformities.

This filler represents a highly purified liquid collagen protein, that when brought to physiologic conditions by mixing with a proprietary buffer, can be applied to tissue voids. The liquid collagen conforms to patient-specific void geometries and then undergoes a self-assembly reaction to form a fibrillar collagen scaffold like those that make up the body's tissues.

This scaffold has soft tissue consistency and persists, where it induces a regenerative healing response.

"This tissue filler represents the first planned medical product developed using our innovative collagen polymer technology," Harbin said. "This collagen polymer supports custom fabrication of a broad range of collagen materials for various applications including tissue restoration, therapeutic cell and drug delivery, or enhancement of tissue-implantable devices interfaces."

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The innovators worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology. The researchers are looking for partners to continue developing and commercializing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact Sherry Harbin at harbins@purdue.edu.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office is located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today's toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Writer: Chris Adam, cladam@prf.org

Source: Sherry Harbin, harbins@purdue.edu

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