Houston—Ingeneron, a Houston-based developer of a stem cell-based technology, announced Monday that it has raised $20 million from strategic partner Sanford Health.
Ingeneron is developing a stem cell-based system meant to help patients recover from wounds and orthopedic ailments like a torn shoulder rotator cuff. In total, the company has raised $38 million from unspecified family offices and high net-worth individuals in both the United States and Germany.
Sanford Health, a large hospital chain based in Sioux Falls, SD, is conducting a small, 18-patient safety study of Ingeneron’s system, known as Transpose RT, being used to heal orthopedic ailments like torn shoulder rotator cuffs. Results are expected around the third quarter of this year, says Ron Stubbers, who was appointed the company’s president following an executive shakeup last month. (Stubbers was previously InGeneron’s vice president of operations.)
“Sanford Health has been involved with regenerative medicine for a long time, so this [investment] is continuing in that vein for them,” Stubbers says.
Assuming all goes well, Ingeneron will have to run a much larger study—likely in 2018 and run into 2019—to test the product’s effectiveness and get it to market in the U.S., Stubbers says. Transpose RT is already sold in Europe for chronic wounds like venous ulcers. Ingeneron has also a second IDE in order to conduct a separate trial this spring to test the system’s feasibility in healing chronic wounds.
Patients with torn or damaged rotator cuffs typically get a cortisone injection, but that just reduces inflammation and pain. It doesn’t actually heal the tendon, as Ingeneron’s technology is meant to do.
Stubbers says Ingeneron has created a machine about the size of a table-top centrifuge that isolates and extracts stem cells taken from a patient’s fat tissue. Those cells are then injected into a patient, where they’re meant to help heal damaged tissue.
Ingeneron was founded in 2006 by Eckhard Alt, the company’s chairman and a professor of medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, and Technische Universität in Munich. (Ingeneron also has an office in Munich.)
Although Ingeneron’s primary focus is orthopedic treatments and wound care, the company does have an animal health division. Its technology was used five years ago, for instance, at the Houston Zoo to treat a Malayan tiger with large bone chips in his right elbow and a female leopard with a bad limp from an elbow injury. According to a story in the Houson Chronicle, Pandu the tiger saw an improved quality of life from the procedure. Ultimately, both the elderly leopard and the 16-year-old tiger had to be euthanized in 2014 and 2015.