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technology to produce synthetic patches of living skin tissue for healing sores, burns, and wounds began in the 1980s as the co-founder and CEO of San Diego’s Advanced Tissue Sciences (ATS). The company became one of San Diego’s prominent public companies and was a flag-bearer for the local biotech industry. But Advanced Tissue Sciences encountered regulatory difficulties in winning FDA approval for its synthetic “Dermagraft” skin patches, and ATS racked up more than $300 million in debt. The company ended in bankruptcy liquidation in late 2002.
During the court-supervised liquidation, SkinMedica acquired proprietary technology for producing “conditioned cell media” that Naughton had helped to develop and patent at Advanced Tissue Sciences. “Conditioned” cell media is an incubating cell culture—with living skin cells, nutrients, and a variety of cellular metabolites and proteins that cells secrete, including biologically active growth factors, inflammatory mediators and other extracellular proteins. It became a key ingredient in SkinMedica’s line of skin care products.
In another deal approved by the bankruptcy court, ATS’s global rights to its Dermagraft skin tissue substitute were acquired by Smith & Nephew, which resold the Dermagraft technology in 2006 to Advanced BioHealing, a venture-backed regenerative medicine company that developed a successful business around the technology. The Irish drug giant Shire acquired Advanced BioHealing for $750 million in 2011, and has been developing a new campus in San Diego for its operations.
When she talked with me in 2008 about the origins of Histogen, she said she had given … Next Page »