Faculty awarded grants for Regenerative Bioscience Center research


Regenerative Research Team Receives Financial Support in Hopes of Clinical Trial

Written by: Charlene Betourney

Two animal and dairy faculty members in the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center —Steven Stice and Franklin West — have been awarded multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $1.1 million.

Over the next two years, Stice and West will collaborate with MRI expert Qun Zhao, professor of physics, to evaluate and better
understand the brain’s functional organization and restoration of networks following traumatic brain injury (TBI).

TBI is a universal health concern and has been called a “silent epidemic,” as many patients are not aware they are suffering lasting damaging from injury. Each year in the United States, 2.5 million patients visit the emergency department after suffering a TBI. Of those millions, 56,800 die and more than 288,000 require hospitalization, rehabilitation programs, or long-term supportive care.
“By studying the disease state of TBI and the limitations of brain repair in swine models, we will be able to determine whether a new approach works effectively in humans and is safe,” said West, who was recently appointed to full professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Presently, there are no neuroprotective or regenerative Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TBI treatments.

The team will access technology and intellectual property that emerged from UGA research and spinout Aruna Bio, a preclinical-stage biotechnology company that develops nanomedicine platforms for neurodegenerative disease and injury such as Parkinson’s, stroke and TBI. Their licensed platform, AB126™, could become the first FDA-approved, TBI targeted delivery system to modulate or cross the blood brain-barrier and enhance the body’s ability to self-repair.

Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Regenerative Medicine, is co-founder and chief scientific officer at Aruna Bio. He said the NIH grants will help accelerate the company’s timeline for future clinical trials.

“The NIH funding will help the company accelerate the development phase for pre-clinical trial modeling and safety, particularly the probability of the trial’s success,” Stice said.

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