WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Nov. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Amnion Foundation of Winston-Salem, N.C., a not-for-profit that processes donated, full-term birth tissues to generate viable human cells for research in academia, government and pharma, has awarded its first Seed Grants to three renowned research programs.
Among many capabilities, Amnion is one of the few labs in the U.S. to isolate and grow -- from non-controversial, full-term placental tissue -- cytotrophoblast cells, which form the barrier separating the maternal bloodstream from the baby's circulation.
Seed grants of research-grade cells and tissue have been awarded to Min Jae Song, Ph.D. and Marc Ferrer, Ph.D. of the National Institutes of Health / National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS); Professor Rebecca Frye, Ph.D. and doctoral candidate Anastasia Freedman of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina; and Shay Soker, Ph.D., Professor of Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Amnion's mission is to ensure that the valuable living cells from donated birth tissues (placenta and umbilical cord) are made broadly accessible, at modest cost, to support ground-breaking research and the development of life-changing therapies. The foundation is able to do this through the support of private donors.
"Thanks to our partnership with Birth Tissue Recovery, LLC, we can begin processing the tissue within hours after birth," said Sharon Presnell, Ph.D., President and Director of Client Services for Amnion. "Our world-class experts are able to isolate the cells quickly and to propagate them in culture conditions that we have developed here. The 2020 Seed Grant awardees were selected based on the potential impact of their proposed project on maternal-fetal health at both a local and global scale."
Song, of the Early Translational Branch and Division of Preclinical Innovation of the National Institutes of Health / National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and his mentor Ferrer, head of the 3D Tissue Bioprinting Laboratory at NCATS, will be leveraging multiple cell types provided by the Amnion Foundation to build a sophisticated multi-cellular 3D model of the maternal-fetal barrier. This model will be important for use in pre-clinical screening of infectious agents, pharmaceuticals, and toxicants. "There is a lack of assays to study the transfer of drugs taken by expecting mothers to the fetus," Song said. "The foundation's support helps provide an opportunity to develop physiologically relevant 3D models of the placental barrier for research."
Freedman and Fry, the Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UNC, will use cells from the Amnion Foundation to further their work in understanding how environmental toxicants in certain regions of North Carolina cross the maternal-fetal barrier and impact the health of the developing fetus. "We are so pleased to have received this grant and are excited to examine these unique stem cells as protective factors against toxic environmental substances," said Fry.
Soker of WFIRM will be using cells provided by Amnion in the development of a physiological tumor microenvironment that can be used, along with patient-derived tumor cells, to better understand the role of the microenvironment in tumor growth and metastasis. The findings can be applied to a more personalized approach in treatment regimens for cancer patients.
Amnion plans to provide another round of Seed Grant funding in 2021, provided that fundraising efforts this winter go as planned. "Our goal is to expand the Seed Grant program by adding additional labs and/or increasing support to the already selected labs," Presnell said.
About Amnion Foundation: The Amnion Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 organization located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As an operating 501(c)3, Amnion actively processes donated birth tissues (placenta and umbilical cord) to generate viable human cells that are provided to researchers in academia, government, and pharma to support the development of in vitro models and in vivo therapies. The Foundation provides research-grade cells and related services to clients and has both GLP- and GMP-compliant capabilities. To learn more please visit www.amnionfoundation.org. All donations to the Amnion Foundation are tax deductible and donors are provided the opportunity to direct their funds across a spectrum of internal and external projects.
Contact: Sharon Presnell, [email protected]
SOURCE Amnion Foundation