Tulane spin-off company to develop new treatment for pelvic organ prolapse
Tulane alumnus Nicholas Pashos, left, teams up with Tulane scientist Kristin Miller to improve treatment for women with pelvic organ prolapse. Pashos is the founder and CEO of the spin-out company Tulane BioAesthetics.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has awarded a grant of $ 256,000 to BioAesthetics Corp., a Tulane University spin-off company, to develop a new transplant for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
BioAesthetics, whose CEO and COO are both Tulane graduates, collaborates with Tulane researcher Kristin miller, associate professor of biomedical engineering whose laboratory will perform the transplant tests.
The grant is part of the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which funds research with high potential for commercializing the technology.
“The suboptimal surgical results (of pelvic organ prolapse) are in large part due to the fact that the female reproductive system is significantly under-studied.”
Kristin Miller, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tulane
Female POP is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles or connective tissues fail to support the pelvic organs. Globally, POP affects 33 to 50 percent of all women, who often experience incontinence, frequent urinary tract infections, bleeding and pain.
About 12% of all women with the disease will need surgery for POP, the goal of which is to restore the organs to their original position. The procedure typically uses stitches, synthetic mesh implants, or grafted tissue to provide support.
However, surgical success rates are low, with over 40 percent of vaginal POP surgeries using native tissue failing within two years. Synthetic mesh carries significant safety risks, including chronic infections, nerve and tissue damage, and genital tears; these risks are so serious that the use of surgical nets has recently been banned in the United States and several other countries.
“The suboptimal surgical results are in large part due to the fact that the female reproductive system is significantly under-studied, which limits the ability of engineers to design effective treatments that match the properties of healthy pelvic floor tissue,” said said Miller, who recently received the 2021 ASME YC Fung Early Career Award for her contributions to advancing understanding of areas of bioengineering of the female reproductive system.
BioAesthetics’ new graft, which is a cell-free biological graft reinforced with biodegradable and biocompatible polymers, will be tested in Miller’s lab to compare its elasticity and strength to that of normal tissues found in the pelvic floor and to assess wound healing and lesions. graft performance in a rodent model.
“We are extremely pleased to be working with Dr. Miller to test our new biomaterial graft for the treatment of POP. His expertise in the field is essential to properly assess the technology and ultimately move forward into the clinic to improve the quality of life for people with POPs, ”said Nicholas Pashos, PhD, Founder and CEO of BioAesthetics and Principal Investigator of the SBIR Grant .
BioAesthetics’ mission is to transform lives through advancements in biomaterials. Its first product is an acellular graft intended to regenerate the nipple and areola of patients with breast cancer who have undergone mastectomy. The company is developing additional next-generation transplants for POPs, burns and pressure ulcers to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for patients.