Press releases are funny old things… sometimes they just seem to take off in viral fashion, to the extent that if one enters the word CartiHeal into a search engine the story of how a small Israeli R&D based organisation has attracted $10M funding appears all over the place. And all of the hype seems to be built on the promise that among all the myriad technologies which have purported to have uncovered the holy grail of cartilage regeneration, this one actually works. Yet strangely neither the press release nor the company website (under construction) tells us how or why.
So the news is that Cartiheal, a privately held device company developing an innovative cell-free technology for regenerating hyaline cartilage, has raised up to $10 million, including $5 million in cash and $5 million in options, which it will use to accelerate the development of its portfolio, presumably mainly its leading product, the Agili-CTM, as well as support ongoing clinical studies.
The most common treatments for articular cartilage injuries include microfracture and osteochondral grafting, two techniques that employ the patients own tissues to effect some form of repair. Microfracture as a technique involves effectively provoking the body’s healing response by injuring the articular surface, yet falls short because the cartilage resulting is only ever described as “hyaline-like” rather than hyaline. Osteochondral grafting also has its limitations, not least in the size of lesion and recovery rate of the transplanted plug of cartilage.
In contrast, Cartiheal claims its Agili-CTM heals the defect with hyaline rather than “hyaline-like” fibrocartilage, possibly preventing the need for future joint replacement surgery, although the company is being rather coy about how it actually works.
In its press release, announcing the new investment CartiHeal describes Agili-CTM as a single step arthroscopically-placed implant, indicated for repairing cartilage and osteochondral defects. It claims Agili-CTM has demonstrated, in both animal and human studies, an unprecedented ability to regenerate true hyaline cartilage—confirmed by the presence of Type II collagen—without the use of growth factors, stem cells or cell expansion techniques. Furthermore it says these results have been confirmed by histological analysis performed by well known independent U.S research lab NAMSA.
CartiHeal was founded in 2009 as a spin-out of the Department of Biotechnology Engineering at Ben-Gurion University, Israel.
The Agili-CTM is CE marked and CartiHeal is currently conducting post-approval clinical studies at leading centres in Europe.
“In our post-marketing studies, initial clinical outcomes are very promising. Biopsies and MRIs show the regeneration of hyaline cartilage as early as 6-12 months following implantation. This is nothing short of a technological breakthrough,” reports Nir Altschuler, Founder and CEO of CartiHeal. “We welcome our new investor and believe Elron’s extensive experience will assist us to become a leading player in the field of cartilage regeneration.”
Source: CartiHeal Ltd., Business Wire