Talk about regenerative medicine and potential drug for COVID-19

Cymbeline “Bem” Culiat, co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of NellOne Therapeutics Inc. in Knoxville and former molecular geneticist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will speak virtually to Friends of ORNL at noon on Tuesday, February 8.

She will talk about “Future Applications in Regenerative Medicine” and part of her talk will be devoted to a potential treatment for people with severe COVID-19 and for “long haulers”, those people who have retained severe symptoms for a long time afterwards. have had the novel coronavirus.

While at ORNL, Culiat discovered the role of the signaling protein NELL1 in stimulating the growth and maturation of musculoskeletal and cardiovascular tissues in mice and other mammals, including humans. . His biotech company is focused on using his discovery to advance regenerative medicine, which involves replacing, engineering, or regenerating human or animal cells, tissues, or organs to promote healing and restore normal function. In contrast, traditional medicine generally provides treatment for the symptoms rather than addressing the root causes.

To view the virtual conference, click on the title of the conference on the homepage of the website and click on the Zoom link at the top of the page describing the conference.

Culiat’s speech

Here’s Culiat’s summary of what she’ll be talking about.

“The global community is entering the third year of an ever-evolving deadly pandemic that has now claimed at least 5.7 million lives (~883,000 in the US), overwhelmed the healthcare system, strained resources and government economies, disrupted communities and devastated families. Despite the availability of several vaccines, antivirals and therapeutics, there is a growing concern that lung and heart tissue damage resulting from infection with the COVID-19 virus is a major cause of death or severe disability in survivors.

“NellOne Therapeutics Inc. (NellOne) is at the forefront of advances in regenerative medicine that can restore injured tissue to its normal functional state. The healing properties of the NELL1 signaling protein stem from its activity during early mammalian development when an extracellular matrix is ​​produced. This pro-healing environment promotes pathways that regulate inflammation, increase tissue survival in low oxygen or other adverse conditions, recruit stem cells, and enhance blood vessel formation.

“These processes trigger and support the formation and maturation of new tissues that can replace damaged tissues. The biology and tissue healing properties of the NELL1 protein have been demonstrated in major organ systems, such as bone, cartilage, skin, skeletal muscle, as well as heart muscle and lungs.

“In 2020, NellOne pivoted and began developing NV1, its proprietary variant of natural NELL1, as a recombinant protein drug for healing lung tissue damaged by COVID-19 and other viral infections. Based on promising data from cultured human and mouse lung tissue studies, NellOne is pursuing an accelerated path to achieving final new drug approval through the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program of the FDA.

“Supported by federal, state and private funding, NellOne Therapeutics is working to achieve the milestones of demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the new drug. Our goal is an IND (Introduction of a New Drug) filing of our recombinant protein drug as a first-in-class therapeutic for clinical trials in patients with severe viral infections.

Originally from the Philippines and living in Oak Ridge, Culiat is a biologist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and educator. Its inventions are protected by 24 NELL1 patents (20 UT-Battelle and 4 NellOne), 22 of which have been granted in eight countries. She co-authored the new book “Designed to Heal: What the Body Shows Us about Healing Wounds, Repairing Relationships and Restoring Community” (McLaurin and Culiat 2021, Tyndale Momentum), which is available on

In 2008, Culiat co-founded NellOne Therapeutics Inc., which develops human and veterinary drugs and devices, as well as therapies for lung and heart damage induced by viral infections such as COVID-19 and influenza. She has won numerous awards in the United States and the Philippines, including the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Outstanding Technology Transfer in 2008 and the Department of Science and Technology Outstanding Philippina Scientist Award in 2015.

In the 1980s, she earned a bachelor’s degree in cell biology and a master’s degree in genetics from the University of the Philippines at Laguna, where she taught genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. In 1994, she obtained a doctorate. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and, as a recipient of the prestigious Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship, she completed postdoctoral training in Molecular Genetics and Genomics at ORNL (1995-1999).

She was assistant professor at UTK’s Graduate School of Genome Science and Technology (1999-2009). A longtime mentor to science students and young scientists, in 2006 she received the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Department of Energy Office of Science. Currently, she is a guest lecturer at private and public universities and supports STEM education in public schools.

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