UT Southwestern Inks Deal to Collaborate to Ultimately Master ‘Exotransplantation’ for Regenerative Medicine Research

UT Southwestern Inks Deal to Collaborate to Ultimately Master ‘Exotransplantation’ for Regenerative Medicine Research

University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) inked a collaborative research deal with Recombinetics (RCI) to identify key factors that improve the efficiency of generating interspecies chimera between pigs and humans. The parties entered into this agreement to contribute knowledge to the longer-term goal of advancing regenerative medicine through the reliable production of therapeutic human cells, tissues, and organs using blastocyst complementation. The goal: a more reliable supply of live-saving transplantable organs on demand that is not reliant on human donors.

TrialSite News breaks down this informational update for the benefit of those interested in regenerative medicine trends. Regenerative medicine, a branch of translational research in tissue engineering and molecular biology, deals with the process of replacing, engineering, or regenerating human or animal cells, tissues, or organs in the effort to restore or establish normal function.

Why did UTSW partner with RCI?

UTSW seeks the expertise of RCI in producing inter-species chimeras—specifically using blastocyst complementation method, where the host species is mutated to ablate a crucial organ or lineage, and the human donor cells are populating the missing niche.

Who is leading the effort?

Ohad Gafni, PhD, Director of Stem Cell Technologies, RCI, and Jun Wu, PhD, Assistant Professor, UTSW.

What challenge does UTSW seek to overcome?

The ability of researchers to produce interspecies chimera is limited because of poor survival and engraftment of the injected donor cells in the host environment.

What are Chimeras?

Interspecie chimeric assays are a valuable tool for investigating the potential of human stem and progenitor cells, as well as their differentiated progeny. For a breakdown of interspecies chimeras, see the website for the lab of Dr. Jun Wu at UTSW.

What does UTSW seek to gain?

UTSW seeks to better understand the relationship between human and pig cells through the development and utilize gene editing to improve the survival, engraftment, and differentiation of the donor human cells in the specific niche. It is possible that these technologies could reveal the crucial step that progresses the agenda of producing human components in bio-incubators.

How will they work together to seek the results?

The two organizations will collaborate to conduct and combine in vitro and in vivo studies in a bid to continuously improve the ability, efficiency of producing pigs, and as stated by Dr. Gafni with RCI, “human chimeras as a foundation for producing therapeutic human cells, tissues and organs.”

Who is RCI?

Recombinetics was founded in 2008 by Perry Hackett and Scott Fahrenkrug, and produces gene-edited animals for biomedical and food production purposes. Their technology platform supports three business lines including 1) Acceligen (precision breeding to enhance health, well being and productivity in food animals and aquaculture); 2) Surrogen (gene-edited swine models of human diseases for biomedical research and pre-clinical trials by pharmaceutical and medical device sponsors); and 3) Regenevida (development of human regenerative products including cells, tissues and organ products in swine models for exotransplantation to humans.

Based in Minnesota, they have raised at least $60 million in venture capital funds since inception.