Sharon Gerecht Receives Award to Advance Graft Technology to Treat CAD and CCD

Sharon Gerecht, Director and core faculty member at INBT, Kent Gordon Croft Investment Management Faculty Scholar, and professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was awarded funding by The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commissions for her project, “Swine Study of Patient-Specific Small-Diameter Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts for Arterial Conduits.” Established by the governor and the Maryland General Assembly through the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act of 2006, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF) promotes state-funded stem cell research through grants to both public and private entities in Maryland.

Gerecht received a validation award, which is given to promising stem cell projects at research labs and universities that show strong potential for the commercial market. Her project is focused on advancing her existing graft technology to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) and congenital cardiovascular defects (CCD). CAD is a leading cause of death or impaired quality of life, resulting in more than half a million coronary artery bypass surgeries per year with treatment costing over $100,000 per procedure. CCD, which are present in 1% of births, including 20,000 infants born in the US annually, costs about $80,000 per procedure.

Surgical intervention using grafts from the same person is the most common corrective procedure for CAD and CCD, but many lack suitable transplantable tissue. For those without suitable tissues, synthetic grafts are used, but they cannot sustain aortic pressure or degrade as native, healthy tissues replaces damaged tissue. The award will help Gerecht’s team, which includes Narutoshi Hibino, INBT researcher and pediatric cardiac surgeon at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Morgan Elliot, INBT PhD student, fabricate patient-specific, small-diameter tissue engineered grafts to large animal studies.

Read the full  announcement by TEDCO.

Story by: Gina Wadas