New Device Suggests Better Treatment for Tissue Transplants, Cell Therapies and Drug Delivery

Contact: Tony Ciuffo

FRD contact:
Troy Huth

July 9, 2018

CHARLESTON, S.C. – A prototype medical device developed by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) researchers and Clemson University bioengineering students could allow the repeated delivery of disease-fighting cells or other therapies to the body without the use of a catheter.

MUSC transplant surgeon Satish Nadig, M.D. said the implantable port could be used for a number of purposes, but “mostly for vascular composite tissue transplants,” such as limb transplants. Nadig and Carl Atkinson, Ph.D., an expert in immunology and the innate immune system, worked with Clemson students to produce the device.

With the provisional patent application on file, MUSC’s Foundation for Research Development (FRD) is seeking a commercial partner over the next 12 months to move this patent and invention forward into production and clinical trials.

The port is comprised of a titanium shell with a cellulose pocket that can hold its payload for localized delivery. The device, only eight millimeters thick, is inserted under the skin with a simple surgical procedure near its intended target area. Once implanted, the device can be used immediately for sustained localized delivery of therapeutics; or in the case of cellular therapies, these can be administered once the cellulose membrane of the device has vascularized to improve oxygenation, and thus cell viability.  The device allows for multiple administrations of therapies without the need for additional surgeries or the maintenance of an external catheter, all while containing the therapeutic payload in an immunological privileged location inside the port.  

Nadig said the port probably could remain in place indefinitely, but most likely would be removed in a few months.

“These type of collaborations are an opportunity for our clinical and research staff to bring new ideas to life,” said Chelsea Ex-Lubeskie, Business Development Manager for the FRD. “Now the search begins for the right partner to take this innovation and bring it forward so patients can benefit from it.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, cellular and gene therapy-related research and development in the United States continues to grow at a fast rate, with hundreds of products advancing in clinical development.  Estimates indicate that the cellular therapies market opportunity could be greater than $25 billion by 2024.  

About the MUSC Foundation for Research Development

MUSC Foundation for Research Development has served as MUSC's technology transfer office since 1998. During that period, FRD has filed patent applications on more than 400 technologies, resulting in over 150 U.S. issued patents. Additionally, FRD has executed more than 150 licenses and spun out more than 50 startup companies. MUSC startups have had products approved by the FDA and acquired by publicly traded corporations while attracting substantial investment dollars into South Carolina. Innovations from MUSC, including medical devices, therapies and software, are positively impacting health care worldwide.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges (Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy), and has nearly 14,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.4 billion, with an annual economic impact of more than $3.8 billion and annual research funding in excess of $250 million. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized children's hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute-designated center), Level I trauma center, Institute of Psychiatry, and the state’s only transplant center. In 2017, for the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the number one hospital in South Carolina. For more information on academic programs or clinical services, visit For more information on hospital patient services, visit