An Auckland firm has won a $409,000 research grant – from a United States consortium with a US Army contract – to help develop a world-class skin replacement treatment for burns patients.

Upside Biotechnologies’ technology enables a small sample of unburnt patient skin to be grown in the laboratory into large areas of full thickness skin. This lab-grown skin can be used as skin grafts in patients with major burns who do not have enough uninjured skin to provide conventional skin grafts.

Upside’s chief executive officer Dr Robert Feldman said Upside skin is produced faster than any competitive product in development and was supplied in larger sheets with excellent handling characteristics preferred by burns surgeons.

The grant is from Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) which is a biomedical technology consortium collaborating with multiple US government agencies under a 10-year renewable Other Transaction Agreement with the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

“I am thrilled that MTEC is able to help Upside Biotechnologies further their prototype development and research,” says General Lester Martinez, MD, MPH, Major General (Retired), US Army, and President and Chairman of MTEC Board.

“These wound care and regenerative medicine technologies are critical to the safety and recovery of our warfighters. We are pleased that MTEC’s membership is able to contribute to the development of these important capabilities.”

“I am very excited that Upside Biotechnologies has been awarded a Prototype Acceleration Award by MTEC. Burns are a major issue for military personnel and Upside’s pioneering technology is designed to improve outcomes in those individuals who suffer from large burns. The award will support Upside Biotechnologies to ready its product, PelliCel™ for a clinical trial,” said Feldman.

In May 2017, Upside announced it had signed a CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) based in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The CRADA initiates a collaboration between the two organizations on both the scientific and regulatory aspects of Upside’s engineered skin product development.

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