UC Berkeley works to develop regenerative tissue consortium

UC Berkeley/Courtesy

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UC Berkeley is working to establish resource centers and consider technology options as a step toward developing methods for regenerating damaged tissues as part of the Center for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Tissue and Organ Regeneration, or C-DOCTOR.

Ben Wu, UCLA’s principal investigator for C-DOCTOR, emphasized that the consortium is revolutionary in recognizing the need for dental and craniofacial tissue regeneration. This type of tissue engineering has been largely ignored in the past, according to Wu.

Wu noted that the consortium is an “unprecedented resource” that will help provide tissue regenerative services to patients with modern technology. C-DOCTOR is working with regeneration through stem cells eliminating the need for any artificial material, Wu said. He added that C-DOCTOR will also expand the research available to clinics.

“This consortium is about infrastructure to overcome that bottleneck that limits science in labs away from the clinic,” Wu said. “We are opening the bottleneck and that’s exciting.”

C-DOCTOR is a $24 million program funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or NIDCR. The consortium is made up of UC Berkeley and five other schools, including UC Davis, UCLA, Stanford University, University of Southern California and University of San Francisco. It is led by nine representatives from the different campuses.

NIDCR previously solicited planning grants, according to Jeffrey Lotz, UCSF’s principal investigator of C-DOCTOR.

After the resource centers are established and appropriate technology is sourced, C-DOCTOR representatives will select top candidates who can provide the technology in order to move the research into clinical trials. This type of comprehensive preclinical work is necessary for the Food and Drug Administration to approve clinical trials, Lotz said.

Currently, the consortium is in discussions with healthcare companies such as Zimmer Biomet and Johnson & Johnson, which have devices and biological solutions to aid regenerative methods, according to Lotz.

“We hope we will have a portfolio of technology at different stages that will be clinically available in five to eight years,” Lotz said. “The technology needs to be clinically adapted, technologically feasible, address an important clinical need and … be commercially viable.”

Nadya Lumelsky, the director of the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research program at the NIDCR, said the goal of the consortium is to bring promising regenerative medical technology to clinical practice. Lumelsky added that regenerative medicine is also an important area for investors.

“This is a promising area of research and technological development (for regenerative medicine) because we all believe that once in clinic this technology can make very significant impact on human health and potentially not only relieve symptoms of disease, but, in some cases at least, provide cures,” Lumelsky said.

Contact Ananya Sreekanth at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @asreekanth_dc.