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Luckily for regenerative medicine that force of nature, in the person of Dean Kamen, is on the job. Kamen, who might be best known as the creator of the Segway or the FIRST Robotics competition, actually has a very long history of creating medical devices.
While still in college, he invented the first wearable infusion pump, which was used in the fields of chemotherapy, neonatology, and endocrinology. In 1976, he founded AutoSyringe, Inc., to manufacture the pumps and at age 30, he sold that company to Baxter International Corp. By then, he had added a number of other infusion devices, including the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics.
Next, he founded DEKA Research & Development Corp. which developed HomeChoice, a peritoneal dialysis system which allowed patients to be dialyzed in their home. And at the request of DARPA Kamen also created Luke, an advanced prosthetic arm in for injured soldiers. He invented the iBOT (electric wheelchair) and most recently created Slingshot a water purification device that is installed across the world.
Kamen talked to IndustryWeek to explain how his vision for bringing regenerative medicine to full-scale production led him to find the necessary resources and leadership that culminated in the creation of Advanced Manufacturing Regenerative Institute/BIOFabUSA.
In creating any industry the vision must come first.
“As a society, we have advanced through the four stages of dealing with disease,” Kamen explained. “The first is to identify the disease and in this stage, we basically watched people die and then figured out what the disease was. The second stage is learning how to treat disease. This is an improvement, but not optimal. The third stage is to become more active, for example when we are able to transplant organs. But it’s the fourth stage where the future lies. It’s where we prevent disease, for example using vaccines. And in the case of regenerative medicine, we build new organs from our own cells. That’s the optimal solution.”
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