cytocentric visionaries mg p2Cytocentric Visionaries: Michael Gilkey, CEO Trailhead Biosystems

Part Two: How to Get that Just-Right Cell in the Middle

Alicia Henn, Chief Scientific Officer, BioSpherix

IIn the first part of our interview with Michael Gilkey, CEO of Trailhead Biosystems, we discuss optimizing cell therapy media with physiologic conditions as well as the power of Trailhead’s unique combination of robotics, Design of Experiments-based methods, and mathematical modeling to identify the best combinations of reagents for recapitulating cell development in vitro.

Here, we continue the conversation, talking about all the different cell types Trailhead is addressing with their unique platform. Continue reading to learn how Trailhead Biosystems is using the Xvivo System to research different cell types.

What projects have you done already?

MG: The project that’s the most mature right now, with Dr. David Dean from OSU, involves changing MSC into bone. He wants to create tissue grafts for facial reconstruction, say for a soldier that has been involved in an explosion. From an MRI or CT scan, he can generate a three-dimensional object and use 3D printing to lay scaffolding down for bone.

He’s found that if you lay down a fully mineralized bone material, it won’t reconnect to the skull and won’t help the patient. He wanted to grow a cell from a developmental stage in the middle so that the implant could be remodeled further by the body after it had been implanted.

We were tasked with pushing the cell all the way to making bone and then seeing if there are intermediate steps where a cell could lay down a naïve matrix as opposed to a mineralized matrix.

We used the expression levels of 56 genes to make sure we were pushing the cells down the right path from an MSC into an osteocyte. Then we developed a 4-stage media that can move MSC down that path to bone in 6 to 8 days as opposed to the 21 to 28 that commercial kits need.

Commercial media promote growth and expansion of the cells while slowly pushing them towards the end goal of the bone progenitor. Ours is almost the opposite. There’s almost no expansion but a very high conversion rate to the cell that we want. So Dr. Dean could take the MSCs and grow up the amount of cells needed, then apply our media and get a transformation to the right cell type.

This is very exciting work. You have other cell types you are working on as well?

MG: On the academic side we have a list of probably 10 or 12 projects. We are looking at immunomodulation with MSCs for Cystic Fibrosis and asthma. We’re about to start projects in lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel. We have a slew of projects from the Cleveland Clinic including the beta cell project with Dr. Jan Jensen, a cartilage project, a lung project, and we have a Rebuild the Kidney grant through Oliver Wessely.

I love this grant. This is an amazing thing that NIH funded. They put together a consortium of the best minds to 3D print a new organ. We’re developing the ink and then they’re going to put that together with 3D printing to actually create an organ. The NIH is thrilled because the data and how quickly we get it, is better than anything that we know about in science.

Jan Jensen is a developmental biologist and my business partner, and he gets giddy. He’ll get this set of data, and then he can literally start looking at how to map the path for the cell you want from pluripotency. This is a revolutionary process.

And the bioactive gas components are as fully defined as the medium?

MG: We provide a constant physiologic environment with the Xvivo, so we’re hitting the cells with only defined components and we know exactly what we’re changing. We put the cell at the center and it works.

Our tagline is “no cell is out of reach”.

In Part Three, we continue our discussion with Michael, with “Let the Cells Lead the Way through the Matrix and Don’t Be Afraid of Change.”

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alicia author iconAbout the Author

Alicia D Henn, PhD, MBA

Alicia Henn has been the Chief Scientific Officer of BioSpherix, Ltd for two years. Previously, she was a researcher at the Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling in Rochester, NY. Alicia obtained her PhD in molecular pharmacology and cancer therapeutics from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY and her MBA from the Simon School at University of Rochester in Rochester, NY.