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Dr. Jason Spector Receives Technology Commercialization Grant

Dr. Jason Spector, professor of surgery (plastic surgery) and of otolaryngology, has received a grant from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) to advance the development of a high-tech platform for creating, testing and imaging 3-D tissue cultures for reconstructive medicine and diagnostic screening.

Dr. Spector will receive the $50,000 grant through Cornell University’s Institute of Biotechnology, a NYSTAR Designated Center for Advanced Technology. Matching funds will be provided by his commercial collaborator, CorSolutions LLC, an Ithaca-based company that specializes in building microfluidic and imaging devices.

Dr. Spector and his collaborators are working on an Autonomous Tissue Cartridge, a miniature, self-contained platform that will allow investigators to fabricate a little piece of tissue derived from a patient’s cells. The device will function as an independent bioreactor, allowing the investigator to directly control many parameters, such as temperature and flow rate, instead of having to transfer the device to another instrument. Such miniature engineered tissues can be used as “test beds” into which the investigators can introduce various drugs, such as chemotherapeutic agents, and observe the effects in real time with a built-in imaging system.

To fabricate the tissue, a variety of cell types will be introduced to recapitulate the three-dimensional microenvironment of the body. This feature is important because researchers have found that cells, including those from tumors, behave very differently when grown on a flat, plastic petri dish than they do in the body where they are surrounded by other cells in a distinct architecture.

“We’re very excited because this device could have a huge impact on our ability to extend and perform precision medicine,” said Dr. Spector. “Any lab that does tissue culture could benefit from this device.” A long-term goal is to use the system to construct replacement tissues embedded with blood vessels for regenerative medicine purposes.

This NYSTAR program is designed to spur technology-based applied research and economic growth in New York and to encourage applied research collaboration and innovation with industry.

Photo Credit: Brooke Alexander

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