RION, a leading clinical-stage regenerative medicine company, today announced that it will collaborate with Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense (ICD) on a $2.4M grant awarded from the Department of Defense.

This grant accelerates a critical research initiative aimed at exploring the therapeutic potential of RION’s proprietary Purified Exosome Product (PEP) for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other challenging pulmonary conditions, which can impact soldiers and veterans exposed to airborne hazards in war zones.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 1.7 million US veterans have experienced at least one exposure to airborne hazards in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war zones. The harmful gases, vapors, and/or particulate matter released by fires in war zones typically results in severe lung-induced morbidity and mortality.

Recent discoveries have proven that exosomes, nano-sized vesicles known for their regenerative capabilities, play a crucial role in the human body. Harnessing the power of regenerative exosomes, RION’s groundbreaking technology platform leverages platelets to produce PEP™, a pure, potent, and shelf-stable purified exosome product, the only one of its kind in the industry.

PEP™ holds the potential for significant tissue repair capabilities across a spectrum of hard-to-treat conditions, such as pulmonary injury, wound healing, acute myocardial infarction, female stress urinary incontinence, and musculoskeletal disorders, among others.

In addition to battle-related pulmonary injury, COPD, affecting an estimated 384 million individuals globally1, and other chronic lung conditions arising from smoke inhalation remain a pressing health concern. Despite its widespread prevalence, current treatments often fall short, with a lack of effective, long-term options for managing and reducing the progression of the disease. This underscores the urgent need for innovative therapeutic approaches. RION’s research initiative is committed to addressing this critical healthcare challenge.

“This grant speaks to the potential of our purified exosome product to deliver on the promise of regenerative medicine – leveraging the body’s innate ability to heal,” said Dr. Atta Behfar, CEO and Co-Founder of RION. “We look forward to unlocking the therapeutic possibilities of PEP™ for patients suffering from debilitating pulmonary diseases with a high unmet need, including COPD among soldiers and veterans.”

RION remains dedicated to advancing regenerative medicine and enhancing patient outcomes. The Rochester MN team is actively pursuing exosome-based therapeutics in multiple FDA-authorized clinical trials, including an active trial in wound healing set for estimated completion in Q1 2024. The company is also pursuing investigational studies in knee osteoarthritis.