NuShores Biosciences, a spin-off company of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has received a three-year, $2.8 million contract from the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC), a biomedical technology consortium associated with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command.
“This new contract will enable us to develop an intelligent, hands-free factory-in-a-box with features such as real-time situational awareness that anticipates failures or production challenges before they cause waste,” said Sharon Ballard, CEO of NuShores. “Our factory-in-a-box concept will reduce human error to increase quality and meet regulatory standards.”
The contract will enable NuShores to develop intelligent automated production of its NuCress™ bone void filler scaffold products using its factory-in-a-box concept. Key collaborators on the project include UA Little Rock and MiQ Partners of Cincinnati.
“This project will enable NuShores to compete globally in pricing and performance and to accelerate the maturity of emerging products in our pipeline,” said NuShores manufacturing manager Mark Pelo, a 27-year veteran of the implantable medical devices industry who joined the company in July.
MiQ Partners brings a long history of manufacturing intelligence solving complex problems. MiQ will combine their automation experience with NuShores’ material sciences experience in bone regeneration scaffolds to develop multi-generational manufacturing solutions and a roadmap of the full expression of the factory-in-a-box concept for future investment.
Founded in 2014 at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, NuShores is the licensee of UA Little Rock’s bone regeneration products, which have been developed primarily with DOD funding.
“UA Little Rock is pleased to continue its productive collaboration with NuShores,” said Dr. Brian Berry, UA Little Rock vice provost for research. “Research is a cornerstone of our university, and we look forward to seeing these tangible results.”
Today, NuShores is positioning itself to become a leader in regenerative medicine by tackling some of the field’s most challenging clinical problems. The new contract complements more than a decade of research into the science of tissue regeneration by Dr. Alex Biris, director of the UA Little Rock Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences and pioneer of the NuCress scaffold technology.
“We are very pleased that MTEC saw the value and innovation in our manufacturing process,” Biris said. “This contract represents a major step toward getting our bone regeneration scaffold in the hands of surgeons and fulfilling our promises to the DOD. Smart manufacturing will help make our long-term advanced research a clinical reality.”
Dr. Karrer Alghazali, a research scientist at NuShores and graduate of UA Little Rock, said the improved automation process will allow NuShores to produce bone regeneration projects quicker.
“This project will allow us to move from a labor-intensive manual process to a standardized system engineering automated process that will benefit our current and future product pipeline,” Alghazali said. “It is exciting to have been a part of both this groundbreaking tissue regeneration research and now innovating the manufacturing automation efforts of the resulting medical devices.”
In the upper right photo, NuShores CEO Sharon Ballard holds a piece of NuCress bone void filler scaffold. Photo by Ben Krain.