A serial entrepreneur has inked a licensing agreement with three Philadelphia institutions for their technologies to develop synthetic skin from soybean proteins as well as technologies for vascular grafts and tissue regeneration.
Eqalix CEO Joseph P. Connell sees applications for diabetic foot ulcers, bed sores, trauma and burns. Connell said the synthetic skin addresses the biggest problem in wound healing — closing a large wound surface. Also, by using synthetic grafts, there won’t be a need to track down and harvest donor arteries in the patient’s body or from another person.
He said the company will use the technology to develop cosmetic products and use the money to fund clinical trials for the three technologies.
The technologies were developed by researchers and clinicians from Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Connell said the institutions involved in the licensing deal will become major stakeholders in his company but declined to describe the size of their stakes.
Dr. Robert Levy and his colleagues at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia developed the biopolymers used in what are referred to as LCL grafts, a method for manufacturing fully synthetic vascular grafts. Levy’s group collaborated with Drexel researcher Dr. Peter Lelkes and Dr. Russell Composto, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, in combining three distinct technologies to create the unique hybrid microgrooved/electrospun vascular grafts, which led to the Eqalix license, a statement from Drexel said.
Lelkes and his collaborators at Drexel developed skin patches made from plant proteins referred to as “alimentary protein scaffolds” and “3-dimensional scaffolds for tissue regeneration,” cell-free fibrous tissue equivalents generated from natural extracellular matrix proteins, according to a statement from Drexel. Lelkes recently moved over to Temple University, where he is chair of bioengineering and director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering.
The advance will produce a new generation of small diameter blood vessels for clinical needs such as coronary bypass grafts, said Composto.
The development of the LCL grafts and alimentary protein scaffolds was supported by funding from Drexel’s $20 million Coulter Translational Research Partnership endowment and federal grants.
Although his company is based in Reston, Virginia, Connell said he’s interested in keeping the technology development in Philadelphia and is in discussions to utilize Temple University’s lab facilities.
Eqalix is a development stage technology company that develops and commercializes products in regenerative medicine for dermatology, cardiovascular applications and neurology. Connell has more than 25 year of’ experience in life sciences companies.
[Photo from Flickr user McBeth]