Connective Orthopaedics Wants to Improve ACL Surgeries, Taps Boston Celtics CEO as Director

8/10/09

Sports fans know how a knee injury ruined the last season for beloved New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and many other athletes before him. Now Connective Orthopaedics , a Waltham, MA, medical devices startup, is quietly researching new products that could potentially improve recoveries for people after they undergo knee surgery.

Connective CEO Dean Banks told me that the vision of the company is to eventually provide products that help torn ACLs (short for anterior cruciate ligaments) in the knee to heal themselves, as opposed to the standard treatment of replacing the damaged ligaments with tissue taken from other parts of a patient’s body or from a donor source. The startup has been attracting attention in the sports world by adding Boston Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck to its board of directors in June. (It turns out that Connective’s Banks and the Celtics’ Grousbeck go way back—they used to work together at Highland Capital Partners in Lexington, MA.)

Banks declined to give specifics about his company’s technology, but he showed me a recently published study to give me an idea. The study indicated that pigs that had reconstructed ACLs that were wrapped in a collagen-platelet scaffold healed back to normal better than the pigs that went without the scaffolds to help mend their ACLs after reconstructive surgery. Collagen is the ubiquitous protein that supports organ structure in the body, and platelets are blood cells that contain growth-stimulating proteins. Though Connective isn’t saying whether it’s developing a collagen-platelet product, the firm is clear that it wants to develop products that promote tissue healing. The secrecy is one indication of the fierce competition Connective is facing.

“We are really, really intent on staying in stealth mode because … Next Page »

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