Hackensack Meridian Health invested in regenerative medicine company EpiBone Inc.
Brooklyn-based EpiBone focuses on the growth of personalized bone and cartilage grafts using stem cell technologies and 3-D imaging and designs.
This is HMH’s fourth investment in a clinical-stage regenerative medicine company through the Bear’s Den, the health network’s innovation program.
“Our industry is going to be transformed by how we leverage cellular biology and new tissue engineering to help the body repair itself, and replace damaged tissue from the impact of chronic and disabling diseases,” said HMH Chief Executive Officer Robert Garrett in a statement. “Our goal is to back innovative evidence-based approaches and products. We are confident in the science, and solutions, EpiBone brings to the market.”
“We are proud of our work, and are excited to be working more closely with Hackensack Meridian Health,” said EpiCone co-founder and CEO Nina Tandon. “Our goal is to harness the power of regenerative medicine to help as many patients as possible, and having help from a world-class hospital system like Hackensack Meridian Health will only serve to expedite our work.”
EpiBone’s craniomaxillofacial, or EB-CMF, product is being tested in its first trials as a treatment for ramus continuity defects in the jaw.
The company was granted investigational new drug clearance to proceed with a Phase I/II clinical trial of the product last May by the Food and Drug Administration.
EB-CMF is a living, anatomically correct bone graft made from a patient’s own fat-derived stem cells, according to an announcement.
A CT scan of the patient’s defect area leads to the creation of a bone scaffold, after which the patient’s fat tissue is extracted. Stem cells are then isolated and expanded. The resulting cells are seeded onto the scaffold within a bioreactor, where they are subjected to warmth, pressure, and a steady flow of nutrients to coax stem cells to differentiate into osteoblasts, or cells that begin to lay down new bone matrix.
Once the graft has had a chance to mature, it is then moved from the bioreactor to the patient’s body, where it naturally integrates with native bone. Bone missing due to genetic defects, traumatic injury, or lost through illness can be replaced through this process.
This can potentially reduce pain, surgical and hospital time when compared to other surgical options, the announcement said.
“I was trained to replace like with like, bone with bone. To be able to accomplish that task with the patient’s own bone without harvesting and shaping it would be ideal,” said Dr. Robert Morin, a reconstructive surgery specialist at HMH in a statement. “Technology such as EpiBone’s is tremendously exciting and will radically redefine approaches to procedures and treatments in the future.”
EpiBone is also exploring other uses of the same technology to replace cartilage, treat osteochondral injuries, among other things.