A lean startup is developing therapeutics using a monoclonal antibody to preserve cardiac tissue and help the body heal from the scarring that can result from the restoration of blood flow for a myocardial infarction. Its treatment could help reduce hospital readmissions for the condition.
Decimmune Therapeutics’ treatment is designed to help people who undergo treatment for severe heart attacks that need to have a blocked artery reopened. In those situations, when tissue has been deprived of oxygen it sets in motion an ischemic cascade that can lead to inflammation, scar formation and loss of tissue function once blood flow is restored. That inflammatory response is referred to as reperfusion injury.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup has identified an antibody that would block the initiating events of the cascade and potentially reduce tissue damage, accelerate healing and improve outcomes by leaving more tissue functionally intact. In addition to myocardial infarctions, the therapeutic could also be used for strokes, burns, wound trauma and plastic surgery.
Walter Newman is the chief scientific officer for Decimmune and serves on the company’s business and advisory team. In a phone interview with MedCity News, Newman said the company had recently raised $2.25 million to help advance its treatment through animal studies. It also added a new investor — Broadview Investors. The lead investor was HealthCare Ventures. The National Institutes of Health through its SBIR funding program has also contributed a significant sum since the company’s launch.
“People who need to have blocked arteries reopened following a severe heart attack have a significant risk of developing heart failure over the months and years since the heart attack,” Newman said. “The current state of care is to reopen the vessel. It does a lot to save lives and salvage heart tissue but there are consequences. The normality of the blood vessel is altered. Our therapy is designed to provide a better transition to a normal state of recovery.”
The company only employs three fulltime staff. Like other companies in HealthCare Ventures’ portfolio, it relies on a consortium of experts to help advise and advance the businesses. Newman likens Decimmune’s business model to a project, financed in a cost-efficient manner to reach various milestones. The idea is to partner with a pharmaceutical company as it approaches the clinical trial stage — expected to be sometime in 2014. Cardiovascular clinical trials tend to be long and expensive.
With about 1.5 million suffering a myocardial infarction each year it’s not surprising that there are about 150 clinical trials for treatments for reperfusion injury in various stages of development, according to the clinicaltrials.gov website.