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Wyle Engineer Inducted Into Space Technology Hall of Fame for Work on Growing Human Cells in Space

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A longtime engineer at Wyle's Houston-based operations has been inducted in the Space Technology Hall of Fame for his participation in developing a bioreactor, which enables the growth of tissue, cancer tumors and virus cultures outside the body, both in space and on Earth.

Dr. Tinh Trinh, a senior mechanical engineer and 26-year employee at Wyle's Integrated Science and Engineering Group supporting NASA's manned space program, was inducted during this week's 27th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Lab-grown cell cultures tend to be small, flat and two-dimensional, unlike normal cultures. But tissues grown in the bioreactor are larger and three-dimensional, with structural and chemical characteristics similar to normal tissue. And the bioreactor has no internal moving parts, thus minimizing any forces that might damage the delicate cell cultures.

The bioreactor, built by Wyle for NASA, has been used for experiments in space aboard the space shuttle, the Russian Mir Space Station and on Earth. Researchers across the United States are using this technology to study cancer, stem cells, diabetes, cartilage and nerve growth and infectious disease.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health used the methods to propagate the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in artificial lymph node tissue. This research resulted in the ability to study the virus life cycle under controlled conditions outside of the human body.

The bioreactor is a spinoff technology that made its way into the commercial world through Synthecon licensing and commercializing it in 1993. Regenetech Inc. licensed 11 patents from JSC in 2001 to produce three-dimensional tissues in the bioreactor and focused on modifications to the bioreactor to develop its own Intrifuge System and intellectual property known as CellXpansion so it could produce expanded cell tissues for specific research. This technology promises help for a wide variety of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, skin ailments and orthopedic applications.

Regenetech provides the technology to researchers pursuing rare disease treatments. Last December Emerging Healthcare Solutions Inc. acquired a sublicense from Regenetech to use the bioreactor. The bioreactor is manufactured for commercial sale by Synthecon Inc.

The two other co-developers of the bioreactor were also inducted in the Space Technology Hall of Fame. They are Dr. David Wolf, a veteran NASA astronaut, physician, electrical engineer and former Wyle employee, and Ray Schwarz, chief engineer and co-founder of Synthecon Inc.

"We at Wyle are all tremendously proud of Tinh Trinh's role in developing this game changing technology and congratulate Tinh and his co-inventors on their award," said Bob Ellis, president of Wyle's Integrated Science and Engineering Group. "Their work, and that of the entire Wyle team, has resulted in an investment in human spaceflight to ultimately benefit medical science here on Earth."

Wyle, a privately held company, is a leading provider of high tech aerospace engineering and information technology services to the federal government on long-term outsourcing contracts. The company also provides test and evaluation of aircraft, weapon systems, networks, and other government assets; and other engineering services to the aerospace, defense, and nuclear power industries.

Dan Reeder
(310) 563-6834
Ref.:  NR/11-14

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