MoMelan, New Rox Anderson Startup, Gets Funds for Device Aimed at Skin Disorders

6/3/10

Skin disorders attack one of the most visible signs of our health. Take vitiligo, which causes skin to lose its color and form irregular white spots all over the body. MoMelan Technologies, a secretive startup in Cambridge, MA, is fighting back against such conditions with a device that could literally expand the impact of skin grafts.

MoMelan, whose technology was invented in the lab of company co-founder and all-star Harvard dermatologist R. Rox Anderson, quietly closed $1.08 million in convertible debt financing in March to advance development of its device used to expand pieces of skin for grafting procedures, said Sameer Sabir, president, vice president of engineering, and co-founder of the startup. Its backers, he says, include BioVentures Investors, LaunchCapital, and Mass Medical Angels, all of which operate in the Boston area, as well as individuals.

Anderson and Sabir are keeping a lid on exactly how their device works. Yet the founders said it would be used to expand a piece of skin by up to 100 times its original size to cover an area on the body that is larger than the the graft could normally cloak. The device was initially developed at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, of which Anderson is director, for people with vitiligo. Yet the firm’s founders say the device also has the potential to be used for patients with scars and other skin conditions for which skin grafts are treatment options.

“The approach is simple, straightforward, and novel,” Anderson says. “Whenever you want to remove or replace [skin] this would be useful, but the primary target is for people with vitiligo because we really don’t have great medicines for them.”

Vitiligo is a worldwide health problem, Anderson says. Anywhere from half a percent to two percent of people of all races are believed to have the disease, but it’s most evident in people of color because of the contrast between the normal hue of their skin and the pale patches it causes. The disease robs the body of its ability to normally produce … Next Page »

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