Spinal disc repair start-up orthonics receives funding from Viscogliosi Brothers, LLC

The funding provides the private-sector match for the company's Phase II grant from VentureLab, a Georgia Research Alliance program that encourages commercialization of technologies developed in Georgia's research universities. The funding will allow Orthonics to continue development of its spinal disc repair and regeneration technologies, which are based on research from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Spinal discs are tough, rubbery materials that separate vertebrae in the spinal column. When damaged, they can press on nerves and cause pain. Surgeons can remove the damaged disc and fuse the spinal vertebrae, but that procedure greatly limits motion in the back. Orthonics' novel biomaterials could provide a non-fusion alternative in the more than one million spinal surgical procedures that take place each year an estimated $3 billion market.

"We're extremely pleased with this investment. The Viscogliosi Brothers have an outstanding track record in orthopedics and their investment in Orthonics is a great endorsement of our business plan and technology," said Orthonics CEO Steve Kennedy. Both parties expect that Viscogliosi Brothers will be the lead investor in a round of seed financing to take place in a few months.

Orthonics' technology is based on research from the laboratory of Barbara Boyan, the Price Gilbert, Jr. Chair in Tissue Engineering and deputy director of research for the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues. (Boyan is also the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Tissue Engineering.) The company's technology includes an improved hydrogel biomaterial and a novel surface patterning technique used to create a more natural attachment between the artificial material and bone or cartilage tissues.

"We have a technique for creating micropatterns on the biomaterial's surface that cause cells in contact with it to behave in a specific way," Kennedy said. "By designing the surface

Contact: John Toon
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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