Understanding umbilical cord blood: an interview with Chris Jones

Written by Burst Biologics

In this interview, Chris Jones (Burst Biologics) discusses the promising field of orthobiologics, particularly umbilical cord blood for bone repair.

Please introduce yourself and Burst Biologics.

My name is Chris Jones. I’m the founder and CEO of Burst Biologics (ID, USA), which was founded in 2010 under the name of Smart Surgical. We set out with the focus to develop innovative technologies in the orthobiologics space.

What prompted Burst Biologics to do this research on bone repair and cytokines?

As an organization, we had a very strong area of interest in orthobiologics, particularly bone fusions in spinal segments. We understood that we needed to really pin down mechanistically why these products worked, because a lot of the other organizations in this industry really didn’t focus there, at least from a scientific standpoint. As a company, we felt it was really important to create a foundation there.

Why is bone repair such a challenging procedure?

As we age, our bodies break down. They have a tougher time healing as a result of injury and during a spinal fusion, there are other comorbidities, such as lifestyle, that impact our body’s ability to regenerate and fuse segments. We set out to understand these factors through our research.

What are the primary takeaways from this research?

There are a ton of takeaways from that research. We had the benefit of understanding that our products had positive clinical outcomes before we went into it. We had the opposite issue that a lot of drug companies might have: we were looking at why the product worked instead of trying to discover if a particular product would work. Ultimately, we found it was very interesting that we had a really beneficial effect on osteodifferentiation and osteogenic activity related to bone consolidation.

What were the biggest challenges in completing this research?

There’s a lot of challenges. Umbilical cord blood (UCB) specific to bone fusions really hasn’t been researched to the extent that we researched it; it has been used widely for hematopoietic disorders and post-chemotherapy but it wasn’t out there for orthobiologic cases. There were challenges related to that in study design and trying to come up with things that were already established for other types of models to be able to demonstrate that these products were efficacious, or at least that they held promise to be efficacious in a bone healing model.

What’s the significance of this research on the field of regenerative medicine as a whole?

UCB hasn’t been looked at for this type of application and I think that there’s a really great opportunity to progress the way outcomes take place with the UCB product. We’re hoping it will start a larger dialogue about the use of UCB or UCB components in fusions.

What’s next for Burst Biologics and its research efforts?

We have a wide variety of different interests. We’re working toward comprehensive drug development and establishing mechanistically how different types of birth tissues play a role in different degenerative conditions. Broadly speaking, our focus is to develop more products by discovering the mechanistic link behind birthing tissues and their role in regeneration.

Do you have any final insights about the current research landscape?

Our focus is on being the leader in research, while also having a translational impact. In other words, we want to be able to develop products out of that research. Therefore, most of our research is really built around either discovering new mechanistic links towards diseases that have challenges or being able to validate existing portfolio products to be able to optimize them and establish them as industry-leading products.

Read Burst Biologics’ latest article in Regenerative Medicine>>