In autumn in Candiolo, a small town fifteen kilometers from Turin, the Piedmontese Technological Center is expected to open, a hub destined to host technological companies specialized in biotech and research institutes. An ambitious project, which revolves around the lead group Hbw, a company that operates in the field of medical biotechnologies and, in particular, tissue regeneration.
The idea of the Technological Pole starts from distant latitudes, from the benches of the University of Naples. «I was studying dentistry and together with my colleague Riccardo d’Aquino we were among the first to isolate stem cells from the dental pulp – explains Antonio Graziano, 40, CEO and cofounder of the Rigenera HBW group -. However, that kind of research did not satisfy us from a clinical point of view and so we began to focus our efforts on an alternative way by which to achieve tissue regeneration, which would provide immediately applicable results. We turned to the oldest method of regenerative medicine, that of grafts, which consists in taking a piece of skin from one part of the body and placing it on a wound. A sort of patch created using the fabrics of the same person ». An ancient technique that has not undergone great variations in the last three thousand years, but which has a major limitation: to heal one wound, another is inevitably created. «If I have a burn on my arm – says Graziano – I cannot think of stripping the other limb, also because to regenerate ten square centimeters of skin you need as many. It is true, I can act on a hidden area of the body, but the scar remains anyway ».
To solve the problem, the HBW group has invented and patented “Rigenera”, a simple-looking machine capable of repairing damaged tissues based on the micrograft concept. «We take a fragment of a few millimeters of tissue from the patient – explains Graziano – and we fragment it inside a special capsule into many pieces, each with a maximum size of 80 microns, therefore perfect for passing through a needle. These fragments are then distributed over the affected area, with a degree of regeneration of two hundred times compared to the original fragment ».
The procedure is minimally invasive and takes about thirty minutes in a single surgical session in the outpatient clinic. The small tissue fragment is harvested using a biopsy punch, disaggregated, processed and used as a micrograft. The applications are many: from burns (in this case the fragments can also be wet inside a skin substitute, applied as if it were a gauze) to scars, androgenetic alopecia to orthopedics.
«It is a very powerful and transversal technology – adds the CEO – which does not require advanced equipment. We were the first to do so and today our company sells disposable capsules in more than forty countries around the world ».