ROSWELL, Ga. – Suppose doctors one day could use the patient’s own stem cells to regenerate damaged heart muscle and tissue? What would that mean to patients with heart disease?
That is not science fiction, nor even science-wishing. That is what the now Roswell-based CorMatrix ECM Technology is doing today. In more than 720 hospitals across the U.S., CorMatrix implants have been used in some 70,000 cardiac procedures.
CorMatrix, a privately held company, moved into its Old Ellis Road location because of the space and because it is all on one floor. This puts all the labs on one floor along with the environment scrubbers that keep the labs pristine. It also makes loading and unloading delicate materials much easier. Since they own the entire building, expansion is easily done.
The plant employs 58 people now. But with revenues up between 40 percent and 50 percent last year, that could increase.
“We’re proud to be in Roswell,” said CEO and co-founder David Camp. “Our goal is to create jobs and drive the healthcare company globally.”
This cutting-edge bio-technical company, founded by Camp and thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Metheny, cut the ribbon on its new 28,000-square-foot facility on Old Ellis Road in Roswell, where its new lab facilities will take cardio-surgery into the 21st century and beyond. They were joined by CorMatrix Board member Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood and members of the Roswell City Council.
Lockwood and his construction company were the contractors for CorMatrix’s new offices and labs.
With technology that is truly cutting-edge, CorMatrix creates what it calls a “bioscaffold,” which is created out of animal tissue that has been scrubbed, cleaned and even had the cells themselves removed. This then is the base that CorMatrix uses to “build” new heart tissue, or with the carotid artery, arterial tissue, using the body’s own stem cells.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Davis said the company uses this three-dimensional bioscaffold like a bandage after heart surgery. It is able to regenerate new cell growth that repairs the damaged organ.
“The scrubbed and de-cellularized tissue is not recognized as a threat, so it is not rejected by the body. So the matrix tissue becomes the platform. This tissue is sewn into the heart muscle. The body’s own stem-cells are attracted by the insult of the surgery,” Davis said.
These stem cells are like a blank slate. They take a signal from the surrounding cells and take on the characteristics of the cells they find at the wound. In this case, these are heart cells. The stem cells find it convenient to attach themselves to the platform structure and begin to replicate new heart tissue.
“It does not calcify or scar,” he said.
Not only does it heal the heart with its own tissue, it is new tissue, Davis said. CorMatrix is licensed by Cook Biotech, the maker of the scrubbed tissue, exclusively for the heart and carotid artery. But the applications theoretically can be applied to all organs of the body.
“As more research is done, the advances will occur exponentially,” Davis said.