Turning Proteins into Device Coatings that Provide Therapeutic Benefits
Lou Alvarez a West Point graduate who earned a PhD in bioengineering from Mit served twenty years in the military including time as an intelligence officer in Iraq, he saw injured soldiers, who doctors were able to save only to later have their limbs amputated because of the inability for injuries to heal properly, the experience led him to develop a means of turning recombinant proteins into a form that allows them to be used as coatings that act like paint can be applied to implants to promote growth and other benefits. We spoke to Alvarez founder of their adaptive about his journey from the battlefield, the lab how his company's platform technology works and the range of applications to which it may be applied. Lou thanks for joining us. It's great to be here. We're GONNA talk about Regenerative Medicine Third DA- positive and your efforts to improve the ability of bones to heal. I'd like to start with your own journey and how you became involved in the field of regenerative medicine. A West Point graduate. Masters in Chemical Engineering in a PhD in biological engineering from MIT. You've also got twenty years of active military service and earned both a combat action badge and a Bronze Star medal. How did you come to West Point? When did your interest in science begin? Were A. it's an interesting trajectory. One would necessarily recommend to others perceive career in science, but It's been quite a right unless but the. Interest really started the early school. In I always knew I wanted to devote my life to science, but about round the time that I was graduating high school light. I got an niche to prove myself physically maybe militarily, so I I decided to go to West Point. Actually provided a very good foundation for my Further studies later on in science had the bigger and and kind of engineering focus, West Point, being engineering school originally, and still is, so. It provided a good backdrop for me to continue my studies after. After finishing a West Point. Military service included time in Iraq. How much of your time was an active military zone? Right so after finishing west point. Miami actually was lucky enough to receive a hertz, Foundation Fellowship, this foundation that that pays for regular school in the in the sciences. And that allowed me to remain on active duty, but to pursue graduate school, and then after that. Two years than I was reassigned to units were traditionally tactical. Army units, and that included time both US industry said in Iraq so I a deployed with the First Cavalry Division to Iraq as an intelligence officer and. That tour was a little over a year, but that period of time between the masters in the was about a five year period of time. What was your experience in Iraq? So. It was actually in Iraq that that I think this idea crystallized in my mind. You know what it is that I. WanNa do in science. A lot of people come in. To a scientific field and maybe have a question about what direction to take so many options, but. What I saw there and what I almost nearly experienced myself several times. You know these injuries that lead to lifelong. Disability. Several if he was serving with head injuries. For example to the limbs lower limbs. I'M GONNA. Get back to the states. Medical scientists able to save their lives, but some of them suffered amputation, and the now have lifelong disability, and all that was due to the fact that there really wasn't anything out there to regenerate tissues, so that that ideas what motivated when I got back from Iraq to to go back to mit again under the leadership to the the focus on this idea, precise tissue regeneration. How much contact had you had with with people who who became amputee? Well after I got back, I did have a lot more interactions with folks in the region near the Walter Reed. Military Medical Hospital. Just others that had served with who who had suffered injuries so. It was a period of time in two, thousand, five, six, seven, eight. Where you know, there were really a surgeon so more and more people that had served with people that they knew. Were suffering injury. So you know it's a close knit community end up. Seeing many of them again. You returned to mit to earn a PhD in biological engineering. What was the work you did there? How did it connect? Sure so when I went back, the army gives you three years basically to do a PhD so I knew I had to hit the ground running. And and have a plan for what to do and MIT's department of biological engineering was very. Welcoming and said you don't pick the professor that you want to work with also a worked with Linda, Griffith, who is really Tinier in the field of regenerative? Medicine Tissue Engineering. Actually! She was a post doc in the Bob Langer's lap. Developed the ear on the back of the mass back in the ninety S. So you know real rich tradition of tissue engineering there it was on her group that I was able to focus on this idea for good delivery of proteins to induce the body to regenerate tissue.