For many breast cancer patients, the effects of undergoing a mastectomy go well beyond the physical. A mastectomy can have a harsh psychological toll on a patient’s self-image and feelings of femininity. Many women who have the option choose to undergo breast reconstruction surgery. Silicone implants or tissue flap surgery (in which tissue is taken from the other areas of the body) may be used to reconstruct a breast. However, another option is available – one that falls within the fast-growing market for regenerative medicine.
Cytori Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CYTX) specializes in products designed for the extraction of stem and regenerative cells from adipose (fat) tissue. Adult stem and regenerative cells have been shown to promote healing. Cytori’s lead product is the Celution System, a medical device that extracts and separates stem and regenerative cells from a patient’s own fat tissue. The device is currently approved in Europe for applications including breast reconstruction, soft tissue repair, and the facilitation of healing certain types of wounds, such as those resulting from Crohn’s disease. The company is currently conducting a 70-patient European study of the Celution System for breast cancer patients, with final data expected in the first half of 2011.
A study published in 2009 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that adult stem cells may help repair heart attack damage. Cytori is conducting its own study of the Celution System to treat heart attack patients. Within 24 hours of the heart attack, the patient’s adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells are extracted and injected into the coronary artery. In May, the company announced that patients had experienced a substantial reduction in heart damage, as well as improved blood supply to the heart. A clinical trial of patients with chronic cardiac ischemia has had positive outcomes as well, with patients demonstrating improved heart function. Cytori is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin conducting clinical trials of the Celution System in the U.S. The company is exploring other applications of its Celution technology, including cardiovascular disease, urinary incontinence, wound healing, liver and kidney failure, pancreatitis and spinal disc disease.
Cytori operates within what is expected to be a high-demand sector in the coming years:The market for regenerative medicine could grow from $1.6 billion to $15 to $20 billion by 2025, says biotech and medical consulting firm Scientia Advisors.