Partnership boosts BMI OrganBank efforts to develop organ banking technology

With demand for organ transplants far outpacing the supply of usable organs, a Winston-Salem company is addressing the challenge through a novel technology and a partnership with Charlotte-based Atrium Health and one of the state’s largest organ procurement organizations.

BMI OrganBank will work with Atrium’s Division of Abdominal Transplant and with LifeShare Carolinas to develop the nation’s first organ banking technology, starting with kidney transplantation. The company is pioneering the use of room-temperature perfusion, or the process of keeping blood flowing, reducing the need for organs to be kept at cold temperatures until transplanted.

“This technology has potential to fill important needs of our organ procurement and transplant teams to make more use of donor organs that have been entrusted to us and to improve transplant outcomes,” Dr. Dionisios Vrochides, chief of transplant oncology and vice chairman of the department of surgery at Atrium’s Division of Abdominal Surgery, said in a news release.

Improvements in organ preservation

Almost 90,000 Americans are on waiting lists to receive kidney transplants, far more than any other organ, according to the federal Human Resources and Services Administration. About 25,000 kidney transplants are performed annually in the United States.BMI OrganBank logo

The waitlist could be shortened, and the number of successful transplants could increase if more kidneys are preserved, including those from older organ donors and those maintained from donors after circulatory death, BMI OrganBank says.

Cold-temperature organ preservation methods can subject organs to significant injury before the transplant, often leaving medical teams reluctant or unable to use them. Although hypothermic machine perfusion, first developed in the 1960s, represents an advancement over traditional static organ storage (such as packing the kidney in ice), researchers are seeking further improvements available through room-temperature perfusion. BMI OrganBank’s technology can extend organ preservation times and help improve outcomes for kidney transplant recipients.

“Atrium’s Carolinas Medical Center abdominal transplant team is widely admired across the nation, and we are delighted to have partners of this caliber join our efforts to bring this lifesaving innovation to patients who have been waitlisted for organs,” said Carrie DiMarzio, CEO of BMI OrganBank.

Seeking additional funding

BMI OrganBank, Atrium Health and LifeShare Carolinas expect to collaborate on product development, clinical studies, pilots and educational programs. The agreement includes an undisclosed capital arrangement. BMI OrganBank is actively pursuing seed funding.

The company launched in 2019 with the intellectual property of its predecessor company, BioMedInnovations LLC. Working with investigators at the Duke Ex Vivo Organ Lab, the company developed its perfusion platform and has since established a licensing agreement with the Duke University Office for Translation and Commercialization to advance and commercialize the technology.

In 2023, the company received a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. The funds are being used to finalize product design and begin regulatory review for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

“BMI OrganBank brings together a strong and experienced team with a potentially game-changing technology,” said Kyle Bartholomew, director of investments for emerging company development at NCBiotech. “I’ve been impressed by the team’s commitment and drive to increase the supply of suitable organs for patients in need of life-saving organ transplants.”

Kyle Marshall, NCBiotech Writer
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