The prospect of accessible and effective regenerative medicine offers many patients suffering with degenerative diseases hope where treatment options (or lack thereof) in the past have left a void. There is an imminent and expanding need for therapies to be developed which can solve these debilitating conditions. One company has been helping researchers and clinicians work towards a solution for nearly three decades. Synthecon, Inc.
is based in Houston, Texas and is the manufacturer of a very vital piece of medical equipment: a bioreactor. In essence, this piece of machinery helps to produce mature 3D cell cultures which help provide the stepping stones to solve clinical challenges in stem cell therapies, cancer and tissue engineering. The Rotary Cell Culture System (RCCS) suspends cells in a microgravity-like environment, and was originally developed at NASA. Initially intended to study astronaut health in space, researchers soon realized that the technology had far broader applications with respect to animal and human health – chiefly because the 3D organization of cells in the bioreactor allows for a more accurate understanding of how cells behave in the body here on earth.
Ultimately though, the RCCS has numerous uses, and most recently Synthecon sought to expand this technology into therapeutic applications through several research projects. Two of the most notable of these were to improve the outcome of pancreatic islet transportation for diabetes and to generate 3D cardiospheroids from adult stem cells to provide repair and regeneration in heart disease. This novel device is used widely by both research institutions at universities as well as private companies.
“We offer a platform that is scalable, which is a big deal in this industry. Most 3D technology produces cells on a small scale, but we can offer a platform to expand cell populations to therapeutic levels,” commented Kirsten Clingman, Application Specialist at Synthecon. “If a patient needs billions of cells to treat cancers and degenerative diseases of some kind, our bioreactor is capable of doing that; it provides superior transport of nutrients through the media resulting in a healthier cell population and a more biologically relevant model. The gentle, low turbulence environment of the RCCS provides the cells with unmatched potential to grow and thrive in 3D. Since our bodies are in 3D, our therapies and research models should be as well. The RCCS offers a highly evolved method from 2D petri dishes and flasks as well as other bioreactors which do not provide such mature and biomimetic tissue.”
Since their inception in 1990, Synthecon, Incorporated has been a biotechnology company that specializes in the design and manufacture of 3D cell culture systems. Synthecon’s rotating bioreactors have applications in various fields of cell culture and tissue engineering, the latest of which is stem cell culture for regenerative medicine. Marketed under the trademark name Rotary Cell Culture SystemsTM (RCCS), Synthecon’s bioreactors have been recognized by over 500 peer-reviewed scientific publications as a superior technology for growing 3D tissue analogs.