NC Partnership Targets Regenerative Medicine Manufacturing in Space

Axiom Space logo

Two research organizations based in Winston-Salem are partnering with Axiom Space, developer of the world’s first commercial space station, to advance regenerative medicine manufacturing in space.

Houston-based Axiom will work with the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), which translates scientific discoveries into clinical therapies, and the RegenMed Development Organization (ReMDO), dedicated to advancing regenerative medicine manufacturing scale-up and automation.

“This partnership paves the way for an entire commercial industry on board Axiom’s space station that will enable our scientific research teams to advance biomanufacturing to bring new treatments that cannot be developed on Earth and treatments for conditions that affect the human body when exposed to the harsh environment of space travel,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of WFIRM. “We can literally take the regenerative medicine field to a whole new level.”

The Axiom vehicle docking at the space station.
The Axiom vehicle docking at the space station. -- Axiom photos

To begin the work, Axiom has signed on as a tenant at ReMDO’s Innovation Accelerator, located in Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter. The Accelerator supports regenerative medicine start-ups and growth companies by providing facilities and services, including access to its test bed, an array of advanced biomanufacturing equipment, talent and programs to support prototyping and initial product development.

Axiom “brings exciting capabilities that exist nowhere else in the world,” said Josh Hunsberger, Ph.D., chief technology officer of ReMDO.

The partnership will support biomedical commercial innovations and manufacturing in low orbit on Axiom’s space station, operating 250 miles above Earth, where research will be free from the constraints of gravity.

Weightlessness has profound effects on living cells and organisms, presenting unique opportunities for disease modeling, stem-cell-derived products, biofabrication and other applications, according to a scientific paper, Biomanufacturing in low Earth orbit for regenerative medicine, published earlier this year in Stem Cell Reports.

“Regenerative medicine has been identified as an important focus area for commercial space initiatives that has the opportunity to provide new hope for breakthrough treatments and aligns with our mission to improve life on Earth and foster possibilities beyond it,” said Christian Maender, director of in-space manufacturing and research at Axiom.

Earlier this month Axiom launched the world’s first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission, called Ax-1, is the first of several planned missions to the ISS and an important step toward Axiom’s goal of building its own space station to serve as a global research and commercial hub.

The Axiom Station will initially be attached to the ISS and will separate from it before NASA decommissions the ISS at the end of this decade.

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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