Treating Chronic Skin Wounds with Curostem™

 
By: Mirrah Almira - CMI Fellow  

Introduction: By harnessing the power of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a team of engineers and pathologists at the University of Pittsburgh has established Curostem(TM), a novel approach to treat chronic skin wounds.

[Pittsburgh, January 22, 2015] Earlier this year, one of the CMI-funded projects, has reached a successful completion. The product of this project, namely Curostem™, is a novel approach to treat chronic skin wounds, a type of wound that takes more than predictable amount of time to heal, for example diabetic skin ulcers. Having chronic skin wounds can deteriorate one's quality of life and it is potentially life threatening. From the financial perspective, chronic wound care is a costly burden for the patient and the US healthcare system in general.

Current treatments such as sterilization bandage and the extracellular (ECM) membrane have not fully resolved the clinical problem. They often address one part of the chronic wound physiology, but fail to address the entire complex nature of such a wound.

In contrast with those treatments, Curostem provides a complete healing solution. This product is a form-filling wound healing polymer gel incorporated with human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). As the MSCs persist in the gel, they receive signals from the damaged cells lining the wound bed to direct the processes of blood vessel regeneration, inflammation management, and also provide direct support of the native cells with cytokines to promote cell survival.

The people behind Curostem are innovative engineers and pathologists at the University of Pittsburgh. They are:
 

 
The $20,000 grant from CMI throughout the year of 2014 has helped the team achieving their targets. Curostem(TM) team has finalized their small scale design of the polymer, determined the method for the incorporation of MSC into the gel and for extending MSC life span in the gel, and has also done small animal testing to prove the safety and efficacy of the complete polymer. The team has identified its FDA regulatory pathway for the ongoing product development, and has adjusted Curostem(TM) protocols in order to be ready for future clinical trials.

The next goal for Curostem(TM) team is the technical development of the product itself, including the plan to begin testing for efficacy of different stem cell sources and types in the polymer (i.e. beyond bone marrow-derived MSCs). The team plans to keep an eye on a potential large-scale cell source and its feasibility of use in their product. Curostem(TM) team will develop a CGMP production scheme and execute toxicity testing as soon as the technical development is finalized. (MA)