Advancements in medicine come from the collaborative efforts of many. There are those who make discoveries about the nature behind disease, those who create their solutions, and those who ultimately administer them to patients. The public benefits when physicians and researchers work together with pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology institutions to develop products that improve individual and public health. Trailhead Biosystems in Cleveland, Ohio, plays a pivotal role in the process, applying innovative technology to learn the why? behind disease and ultimately reach the how? to solve it.
“The difficulty of making functional cells for cell therapy is that cells are complex systems,” said Jan Jensen, PhD, founder and CEO of Trailhead Biosystems. “Instructing billions of cells to adopt a single, specialized type is challenging. Experimentally, one cannot solve this by testing one input at a time. To tackle the problem, we’ve developed specific software to control robotics which execute very large experiments. This allows us to extract conditions that allow cells to differentiate into the desired types, and move us further on the path towards developing cures for diseases such as diabetes.”
Trailhead seeks to provide the emerging field of regenerative medicine with human cells that can be used to tackle a wide array of complex challenges such as diabetes or bone regeneration. Cells can be used to create new models of human disease, which can then be explored for new drug development or to address patient responses to existing drugs. Trailhead’s innovative combination hardware-software system increases research efficiency and ultimately lowers cost and expedites discovery by scrutinizing several variables simultaneously, and designing experiments in multiple dimensions.
Trailhead Biosystems spun out of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)’s project, OH-Alive, which was created through a grant from Ohio Third Frontier. The cutting-edge company received additional funding from the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) which it applied to the early development of their innovative software, and is based in the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center (GCIC) in Cleveland’s Health Tech Corridor, another northeast Ohio regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier.
Trailhead is currently working on projects across related to cystic fibrosis, but they’re eager to apply it to therapies for diabetes, kidney disease, lung and cartilage regeneration, inflammatory bowel disease and much more. They’re thankful for continued collaboration with institutions like University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, and consider themselves in the best place for medical research in the nation.
“The local support for our work has been fantastic,” said Jensen. “It’s our responsibility now to make Trailhead a success on the national and international stage. Cleveland is a terrific place to call home. It used to be the center of heavy industrial manufacturing in the world; now it’s the center for medical care and research. The Cavaliers have shown amazing things can happen in Cleveland. They’re a good inspiration for a small company that’s set to compete with corporations big and small across the world.”