A bio-research and manufacturing institute that hopes to develop transplant tissues and organs for injured American soldiers and other patients has opened in New Hampshire.
The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, which opened Friday in Manchester, will be led by Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway, an all-terrain electric wheelchair and several other devices. The University of New Hampshire and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center will be part of the institute.
Kamen, speaking after an opening ceremony, said he was optimistic the institute could develop artificial skin, bones and nerves and eventually organs that could be implanted into patients in the next few years. He said it would start with developing the technology allowing for the production of pieces of organs and "way down the road" producing livers, kidneys and lungs. He said one of the challenges is figuring out which organs would be easiest to reproduce.
Kamen said the goal was to scale up the developments in regenerative medicine by forming this public-private partnership, which brings together 26 universities and medical centers, 80 private companies and nearly $300 million in government and private-sector funding.
"What we are saying is that there are all sorts of miracles that already exist in roller bottles and petri dishes at medical schools, labs," Kamen said, comparing their effort to what Campbell's Soup Co. has done with the production of soup. "We said let's go out to the biggest, best companies that do automation, controls, sensors and that understand process, that understand high-level manufacturing, and let's bring them to the same place as all the people who have the magic in their roller bottles."
The state's Democratic congressional delegation and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu welcomed the project, saying it would bring good jobs to Manchester and give the state's college graduates opportunities to work on cutting-edge biomedical research.
"It is an exciting day for Manchester and New Hampshire, and, as Dean said, for our war fighters and the country," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said, recalling a 2006 event she attended at Harvard University, where Kamen talked of one day being able to produce organs and replace a lost kidney.
Sununu called the opening "awesome" and said it was another sign the state's business climate is on the upswing.