Frequency Therapeutics is betting that it can change the lives of millions of Americans with hearing loss through a cell therapy that triggers the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Researchers have used cells in regenerative medicine for decades – in 1931, the father of cell therapy, Paul Niehans, treated a patient with material from calf embryos. Although today’s healthcare practitioners have left bovine embryonic cells behind, procedures such as bone marrow transplants are routinely used to replenish a patient’s cells after they’ve been destroyed.
When scientists first derived stem cells in 1981 – a decade after Niehans’s death – many heralded the innovation as a new chapter in regenerative medicine. Stem cells, with their ability to proliferate and differentiate into a variety of cell types, opened up entirely new avenues of research.
Today, many companies use scaffolds seeded with stem cells to trigger the body’s natural healing abilities. But MIT professor Robert Langer and Harvard professor Jeff Karp, the co-founders of Frequency Therapeutics (Woburn, Mass.), had a different idea: They see enormous potential in another type of differentiated cell called progenitor cells.
“We think we’re leading the revolution for ‘Regenerative Medicine 2.0,’” said Frequency Therapeutics co-founder and COO Chris Loose. “As we look back, we think maybe this is the way that regenerative medicine should have been done in the first place.”