Employees: 406 (380 in Colorado).
Centennial’s 400-employee health-care manufacturer is managing the demands and rewards of its unique mission to national prominence.
Manufacturing in Colorado is a full-circle economic sector, with enterprises engaged in everything from distilling and beer making, to high-tech and plastics, to clothes making, outdoor gear, equipment and just about everything else. But if manufacturing means taking a raw material, enhancing it, then delivering value-added products in high demand then Centennial-based AlloSource may be the most unique manufacturer in the region.
AlloSource is one of the largest and most respected human tissue banks in the country, collecting and processing a wide variety of human tissue from donors and distributing to the medical community around the country to help injured and impaired patients get a new lease on life. Recovery from a single donor can help enhance the lives of up to 100 others suffering from such dread afflictions as cancer, blown-out joints, severe burns and wounds, and spine injuries, among many others.
Many of the of the 3,485 donors in 2012 lost their lives tragically. It’s often a sad story that turns into concentric circles of possibilities and hope.
“We never lose sight of the fact that our donors and their families have experienced a tragedy, and by becoming a donor they have truly offered us a gift that we honor with a solemn obligation to maximize the possibilities of each and every gift,” says Thomas Cycyota, President and CEO of AlloSource.
The name allo comes from a medical term for the source – an allograft is tissue removed from one part of a person’s body and transplanted into another person. It is as opposed to an autograft where tissue is removed from a person and then transplanted, or grafted, into that same person, or a xenograft where tissue designated for human transplant is derived from a non-human source; e.g. heart valves from pigs.
AlloSource was founded by three Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) which recognized the extraordinary need to replace diseased tissue in patients while at the same time providing respectful comfort and solace to families dealing with the loss of a loved one. Technicians recover such tissues as bone, skin, soft-tissue, and fresh cartilage for the needs of tissue banks like AlloSource. As with organ donation, recovered tissue is in short supply, limited by the organ and tissue donation registries that strive mightily throughout the country to increase voluntary participation.
The company tests these tissues under the rigorous certification requirements established by such organizations as the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) to ensure disease-free tissue is recovered, and then quickly processes the materials in clean rooms and laboratories for use in a wide variety of orthopedic and other medical uses. For instance, human skin is processed to create such products as AlloSkin and AlloSkin RT for grafting in severe burn and wound care, while bone is machined and processed for structural and cancellous grafts.
The processed tissue is available to physicians on demand in 200 forms, sizes and configurations, some of it being freeze-dried and offering a shelf life of up to five years, with other types cryogenically frozen with a shelf life of up to two years. Certain types of tissue, like fresh cartilage where live cells are required for healing, are available from AlloSource for surgical procedures for up to 28 days from recovery. Cycyota is quick to point out the often heroic efforts of his staff and the OPOs in the timely recovery and delivery of desperately needed tissue as part of its compassionate customer service focus.
All of the tissue recovered and processed by AlloSource is handled at its suburban Denver manufacturing facility, newly expanded in 2012, where it also conducts extensive research and development.
Challenge – Regulation. “Through innovation, AlloSource’s allografts are becoming more sophisticated and posing new regulatory analysis,” notes Cycyota. “Our collaboration with both the FDA and AATB will ensure there are new allografts for healing that meet all of the applicable regulations.”
Opportunity – Innovation. “The progressive innovation that we have seen in AlloSource’s R&D department using adult mesenchymal stem cells is allowing surgeons to gain healing in cases which otherwise would have had problematic outcomes,” says Cycyota.
Need – Donor resources. “AlloSource can only follow through on our mission to honor the gift if we have tissue donors. The recovery agencies we currently partner with trust us to take great care of their donors by ensuring their tissue helps as many people as possible. AlloSource looks forward to partnering more OPOs in the future.”