Dean Kamen has become known as the $294 mil man. As an inventor and entrepreneur, Kamen’ s enthusiasm for technology has helped his company, DEKA Study & Development, create many groundbreaking products over the years, like the first portable insulin delivery system, an electronic wheelchair that may take the stairs, and a robotic prosthetic arm. As if all those achievements weren’ t enough, the U. S Division of Defense recently announced that Kamen will now lead 87 businesses, academic institutions, and other organizations as they collaborate to help advance tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Though Kamen didn’ t look for the role of ARMI’ s leader himself, he or she couldn’ t turn down the opportunity when the Department of Protection offered it to him. Kamen’ s coalition can be titled the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), with all the goal of developing “ next-generation manufacturing techniques for fixing and replacing cells, tissues, and organs for injured service members. ” To date, ARMI has secured $294 million in funding, with more expected in the future.
Speaking to a reporter with Xconomy, Kamen explained the urgency of the task at hand. “ There’ s all this great science going on but generally there aren’ t a lot of companies that are looking for ways to take this miracle out of the roller bottles – these one-at-a-time miracles – and go from science experiments to industrial level to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people waiting for organs or even tissue. As this magic gets better and better… let’ s create an opportunity for them to have the right tools to fulfill the needs – the desperate needs, in many cases – of individuals. ”
Manufacturing Versus Medical
Kamen is certainly careful to specify the purpose of ARMI. The organization is not finishing medical research and studies itself, but rather “ bringing the technology towards the medical community. ” Pharmaceutical, industrial, and medtech businesses, as well as small startups flourishing out of university laboratories, may all turn to ARMI for support as they work in making their regenerative medicine discoveries available on a large scale degree.
As Kamen described in his interview, “ We want to have processes in place to cope with agencies like the FDA to make sure that we can effectively support, within appropriate ways, all the stuff that needs to be done to get into and get away from clinical trials… to bring things to scale, to get quality upward and cost down as we transition these things from technology to industry. That’ s the focus of what we’ re going to do. We will not be doing the basic technology. We will be doing the transition to volume – qualified, dependable systems. ”
The Focus on Military Men and Women
There is no doubt in Kamen’ s mind that the exact same medical advances that support injured soldiers will also have got applications in the general population. Given ARMI’ s financing by the Department of Defense, Kamen has a responsibility to provide special attention to utilizing ARMI to meet the specific needs associated with warfighters, particularly with severe burns, missing bone plus tissue, and missing limbs. Kamen feels passionately in regards to the need to make regenerative medicine treatments more widely available to troops: “ In many cases, literally they’ ve given their legs and arms for this country. We owe them a lot. ”
Kamen’ s journey along with ARMI is only beginning, so only time will inform how impactful his coalition will be in the effort in making regenerative medicine more accessible to soldiers and the common population. But one thing is for sure: it is people such as Kamen and the significant funding he has secured who will allow regenerative medicine to continue saving lives and improving standard of living.
Image Source: Xconomy