BY MARA LEE
The New Haven medical device company co-founded by Dr. Cato Laurencin, former chief of the University of Connecticut Health Center, has raised $2.5 million, including $750,000 from Connecticut Innovations, to fund animal studies and clinical trials next year.
Soft Tissue Regeneration Inc.is developing a synthetic tissue that replaces a torn ACL in patients’ knees. The company relocated to Connecticut after Laurencin came to the state to lead the health center three years ago.
Laurencin stepped down in June after three years at the health center, where he was dean of the UConn medical school. He now directs the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the health center, and is a UConn professor. He’s an orthopedic surgeon and an engineer with a degree from M.I.T.
STR is also working to develop products for other injured ligaments and tendons, including a recently developed biodegradable rotator cuff augmentation device. The company’s product, the L-C Ligament, “is a biocompatible and degradable synthetic braided scaffold that is surgically attached to the femur and tibia bones when replacing the patient’s torn ACL,” CI said.
“With an estimated 800,000 ACL reconstruction surgeries performed annually around the globe and an active, aging population, there is a strong and growing market for STR’s product,” CI said.
STR recently demonstrated the full regeneration of a natural ACL using a degradable synthetic product, according to Joseph W. Reilly, chief executive officer and co-founder of STR. “This investment will allow STR to continue its successful animal studies and begin European clinical trials in September 2012,” he said.
The latest round of investment includes Philadelphia-based MentorTech Ventures II LP, and the New Haven branch of LaunchCapital and individual investors. The company’s technology is licensed by Drexel University in Philadelphia. Russell Tweeddale, CI managing director of investments, will continue on STR’s board of directors.
Connecticut Innovations is a quasi-public organization in Rocky Hill dedicated to driving a vibrant, entrepreneurial, technology-based economy in Connecticut. Its initial investment pool came from tax dollars, but now its investments are self-sustaining.