CMMRF Update from the Indiana University School of Medicine

Many of the board members with CMMRF, along with a few medical professionals from around the world, traveled to Indianapolis and were greeted by the men and women who transform the funding from CMMRF into cutting edge medical breakthroughs. The physicians and research scientists were eager to show off their accomplishments to us, and displayed the utmost gratitude for providing the funds needed to pursue their research.

The morning started out with Dr Hanaa Aridi, who opened our eyes to the numbers of leg amputation and how skin color and socio-economic status play a role in these amputations and in seeking treatments in a timely manner. “Non-white race alone more than doubles the risk of primary amputation in patients with Critical Limb Threatening Ischemia (CLTI) and lowers the rate of utilization of limb salvage techniques by at least 28%” (Anjorin AC et al, J Vasc Surg 2022:75(6):e77-8).  For instance, African Americans have a higher rate of peripheral arterial disease and diabetes, they tend to seek help after the disease process has become more advanced, have increased mobility issues, and are less likely to be treated with optimal medical therapy or to undergo limb salvage therapy. In other words, they wait too long to get help, and the help they need may not be available to them.

The American Heart Association has a goal to reduce the number of leg amputations by 20% by 2022. This directly impacts our research, as our ‘seed money’ from CMMRF can be used to provide even more funding in this same area that we have been funding for years! This is like striking gold, but in the medical field. This is like investing in Bitcoin before it was popular.

After this emotional presentation, we heard from Leni Moldovan, Ph.D, who reiterated the importance of the CODEX and spoke about the breakthrough in finding stem cells regenerating outside of the initial treatment areas, proving that the cells are repopulating in the entire area. A newer CODEX machine is about to be replaced with an upgraded PhenoCycler-Fusion system, also from Akoya Bio, and it should work faster, cheaper, and with greater capabilities. The CODEX can map millions of cells and their interaction with each other. This is like finding a needle in a haystack. The computing power is also amazing, analyzing data upwards of 5-10 TeraBytes. The downside of operating this piece of equipment is the astronomical costs of the ‘consumables’ which can average $1300 for each antigen introduced into the sample. But the data received from the test, which can show the interaction between the cells, paves the way for new treatments and the reduced time to fully understand the treatment responses.

Dr. Mervin Yoder reiterated the important part that stem cells play in the prevention of amputations resulting from Critical Limb Threatening Ischemia. By using cultured stem cells and adding a few genes to direct their growth, they can create the desired stem cell with the desired effect within the body. His work is directed towards repairing the blood vessel’s inner walls. His biggest hurdle is finding the correct cell to study and attempt to replicate. This isn’t a needle in a haystack scenario; this is a needle in the hayfield scenario. As soon as they can manufacture these colony forming cells in the lab, many of these problems with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms and Peripheral Artery Disease can be corrected, thus preventing invasive surgeries, loss of limbs, and potentially preventable death.

Steven Miller, Ph.D. followed up the discussion by reiterating how stem cells can be harvested, whether through bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, more especially the middle of the backbone from healthy young females. With the use of  specially bred diabetic mice, called TALLYHO mice, they are essentially destroying the arteries to a leg and injecting stem cells to try to regrow the blood vessels. This is also one of the uses of the Buchi Encapsulator (purchased by CMMRF funding) to surround these stem cells and protect them, while also allowing the cells to perform as intended. These cells were also discovered in parts of the leg that were not injected with stem cells, showing that they are thriving and doing their jobs.

Finally, Nicanor Moldovan, Ph.D. discussed the newest prototype of the BioPencil, a device that will be used to precisely deliver stem cells to certain parts of the body, such as the Abdominal Aorta. This device can do so much more, including delivering stem cells to regrow bones in the body as well as outside of the body. The smallest bone in the body, the ear ossicles, can be recreated with bio-printers such as the BioPencil, indicating that hearing loss may be treated through other means than just hearing aids. This same device can be used to aid in the regrowth of select tissues within the eyes, intestines, blood vessels, lungs, etc. The research is being done throughout many VA hospitals ranging from coast to coast, with Indiana University as their primary hub for research and utilizing bio-printing in their practice.

This has all been done through the continuing support of CMMRF and Companions throughout the world. The world of medicine is advancing at an incredible rate, and we are standing at the summit of these advancements. If you do not understand any of this, just know that our donations to CMMRF are about to rewrite the medical journals and change the way that our medical conditions are treated.

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