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Regenerative medicine: Interview with a game-changing leader Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 21, 2017 in Science
Regenerative medicine is a game-changing area of medicine. It has the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs. To find out more about this innovative medical technology we spoke with RepliCel’s CEO, Lee Buckler.
Regenerative medicine, a branch of translational research in tissue engineering and molecular biology, works to heal tissue and organ damage. One of the most promising biotechnology companies in this field is RepliCel. The company creates first-of-its-kind cell therapies for treating conditions like pattern baldness, aging and sun-damaged skin, and chronic tendon degeneration.
To find out more, Digital Journal spoke with RepliCel’s CEO, Lee Buckler, outlining the company’s technology, key milestones and commercialization pathway. Buckler possesses nearly 20 years of cell therapy experience and has pioneered many innovative business and cell science approaches in the field of regenerative medicine.
Digital Journal: Please explain the advantages of RepliCel technologies.
Lee Buckler: “We are developing two cell therapy products that utilize a person’s own cells to rejuvenate skin, repair tendons, and regrow hair in ways which other products or treatments are simply unable to accomplish. Our next-gen dermal injector provides electronically governed precision over the injection depth and dose delivery and includes a cooling element which numbs the skin prior to injection.”
DJ: How long did RepliCel take to develop?
Buckler: “The initial scientific discoveries by our academic co-founders go back to 2003. The company was first formed in 2006 and became what is known as RepliCel in 2010.”
DJ: What were the main obstacles with the development?
Buckler: “RepliCel was one of the early companies involved in developing cell therapies when such products were in the very nascent stages of development. This meant that there was little infrastructure, tools, or technologies to leverage the development of these emerging products. The lack of commercially successful product precedent made soliciting investors more difficult than for more traditional biotechnologies.”
DJ: Were there any regulatory barriers? How did you approach the regulators?
Buckler: “In the early days, the regulations for cell therapies were still in development. We worked with regulators to understand how these products were both similar and different from other biologics and how the regulatory pathway for such products should reflect these requirements. For example, our first trial required us to follow up patients for safety data much longer than our more recent trials because now we can rely on the years of available published data regulators may reference.”
DJ: What types of companies are purchasing RepliCel? What are the main applications?
Buckler: “RepliCel is developing products for application in orthopedics, namely chronic tendinopathy, and aesthetics, namely androgenic alopecia and aging skin. Companies in these sectors are our potential commercial partners or licensees.”
RepliCel’s CEO  Lee Buckler.
RepliCel’s CEO, Lee Buckler.
For those aiming to enter the biotechnology or medical technology fields, we took the opportunity to Buckler about his early career.
DJ: How did you get involved with science and technology?
Buckler: “I was a practicing lawyer when a friend of mine in biotech convinced me to interview for a position with a biotech company. I was enamored with the idea of being a part of a fast-paced industry that presented the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. I became committed to the ideals of using cells as therapeutic agents to accomplish things medicine was not yet able to address. I love the science of biotechnology and have found my passion delivering on the business side of the industry.”
DJ: What other health related innovations interest you?
Buckler: “I am particularly interested in all technologies related to regenerative medicine. We are working specifically on cell therapies, but we are also closely watching developments in bioprinting, exosomes, and delivery technologies.”
DJ: What does the future hold for health technology in general?
Buckler: “We have the opportunity in our lifetime - if we invest in both health technology and reimbursement innovation - to see more effective diagnostics, to incentivize preventative health, and to develop products which leverage the body's own healing and regeneration resulting in healthier, more functional life quality than any time in history. I believe improving quality of life for a broader population in ways which are inherently natural and less invasive is a much more laudable and realizable goal than the current, fashionable obsession with life extension.”
RepliCel Life Sciences produces RCT-01, RCS-01, and RCH-01 cell therapies, designed to treat chronic tendinosis, damaged or aged skin, and pattern baldness.
More about RepliCel, regenerative medicine, Medicine, healthtech
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