Cleveland Clinic, JumpStart invest $500k in wound therapy startup

SironRX hopes to raise $2.5 million, which it would use to fund a Phase 2 clinical trial of its wound-healing technology.

Cleveland Clinic and economic development group JumpStart Inc. have invested $500,000 in SironRX Therapeutics, a newly created company developing a wound-healing therapy.

The investment will be part of a larger, $2.5 million fundraise for the company, CEO Rahul Aras said.

SironRX is a spinoff of Juventas Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company pursuing treatments for cardiovascular disease. Each company employs the same technology, called JVS-100, which is based on a growth factor that recruits stem cells from the bone marrow to create new blood vessels. The factor acts as a “beacon,” recruiting stem cells to repair a damaged organ, said Aras, who will work as CEO of both companies.

The question of whether to split up Juventas and SironRX “is one we’ve deliberated on for a long time,” Aras said. Ultimately, there were enough differences between the development paths for the cardiovascular disease and wound therapy products that it made sense to separate each application of the technology into a different company. SironRX, for example, is expected to be able to get a product on the market more quickly and cheaply than Juventas, Aras said.

Plus, when looking ahead to an exit, very few strategic acquirers would be likely to have interest in both a cardiovascular disease and wound-healing technology, according to Aras.

A big advantage for SironRX is that it will benefit from the human and animal studies that Juventas has already performed. Juventas last month received regulatory approval to begin a Phase 2 clinical trial of critical limb ischemia patients.

The immediate goal for SironRX is to complete the $2.5 million round. The company is in the midst of negotiating a term sheet with unspecified investors, Aras said.

The company would use that funding for a Phase 2 trial of its wound-healing therapy, which could reduce the amount of time it takes a wound to heal and the scarring associated with it. Aras hopes to begin the trial by the end of this year and complete it by the end of next year.

The technology used by SironRX and Juventas was pioneered by Dr. Marc Penn, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s cardiac intensive care unit. Penn is chief science officer with each company. Aras was previously an executive with Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the health system’s technology transfer unit.