Connecticut Children's Medical Center and Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology Collaborate to Develop Bioengineered Pediatric Esophageal Solutions

HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 10, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Connecticut Children's Medical Center has entered into an agreement with Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology, Inc., (NASDAQ: HART), or HART, a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organs for life threatening conditions, on a pre-clinical collaboration to develop an innovative process for repairing or replacing the esophagus to treat life-threatening pediatric conditions such as esophageal atresia.

This collaboration combines the complementary strengths of Connecticut Children's and HART in a unique pre-clinical program designed to accelerate development efforts of new treatment options. Dr. Christine Finck, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Connecticut Children's, and her research team are focused on bringing to the clinic bioengineered scaffolds that use a patient's own cells to repair or replace the esophagus, using their skills in tissue engineering, cell therapy and surgery. HART's contribution to the collaboration will focus on 3-D organ scaffold development, using their expertise in materials science and tissue engineering, as well as their team's skills and experience in surgery and biology.

"Utilizing the principles of regenerative medicine has shown significant potential to provide additional treatment options and improve care for patients," said Dr. Finck. "By working with the HART team to utilize a bioengineered organ scaffold, we are working to develop a process that will allow a child's esophagus to be repaired or replaced to address life-threatening conditions."

Jim McGorry, President and CEO of HART, commented, "We are proud to continue and expand our collaboration with Connecticut Children's Medical Center to develop new treatment options for children using regenerative medicine principles. Dr. Finck and her team are recognized leaders in the regenerative medicine community, well-known for their passion and commitment to bringing new treatments to children and their families."

Esophageal atresia (EA) is a rare condition, affecting 1 in 2,500 to 3,500 babies, in which a child is born without a portion of his or her esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. With this condition, infants are usually unable to eat or drink normally given their difficulty swallowing and they also may have trouble breathing. Current treatment is usually surgery to connect the ends of the esophagus and close the gap. However, in some cases, too much of the esophagus is missing, and traditional surgical techniques do not work. This is known as long-gap esophageal atresia.

With this collaboration, Connecticut Children's and HART will focus on translating bench research into treatments that can directly benefit the children who need them.

About Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology

Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology is a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organs for life-threatening conditions. The Company's technology initially is focused on restoring organ function to a patient's airway or esophagus.

About Connecticut Children's Medical Center Regenerative Technology

Dr. Christine Finck and Connecticut Children's focus their regenerative research on cell therapy and tissue engineering options for clinical treatment. A patient's own cells are used in the solutions being developed, thereby reducing the rejection response and potential need for long-term immunosuppression.

About Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Connecticut Children's Medical Center is a nationally recognized, 187-bed not-for-profit children's hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Named among the best in the nation in the annual U.S. News & World Report "Best Children's Hospitals" rankings, Connecticut Children's is the only free-standing children's hospital in Connecticut that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Our pediatric services are available at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford and at Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, with neonatal intensive care units at Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut Health Center, along with a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center, five specialty care centers and 10 other locations across the state. Connecticut Children's has a medical staff of nearly 1,100 practicing in more than 30 specialties.

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Source:Connecticut Childrens Medical Center