Cork firm secures €2m to help take bone-graft product to market


CORK-BASED COMPANY SurgaColl Technologies has secured more than €2 million in funding that will support them in commercialising a new bone-graft technology, developed through research at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

The investment comes through a funding syndicate that includes AIB Seed Capital Fund, Harmac Medical Products, Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors in the UK, France and Singapore.

The product, HydroxyColl, is a scaffold material made up of type I collagen and hydroxyapatite, two constituents that occur naturally in bone. The three-dimensional construct has been developed so that it is “osteoinductive”, which means it can spontaneously induce bone growth.

The hope is that it will eventually help to speed recovery in patients who need a bone graft.

“The premise behind this technology is that we are harnessing nature to induce an effect in the body,” said the chief executive of SurgaColl, Dan Philpott. “It is augmenting the bone’s natural healing process.”

He described how HydroxyColl is one of a number of tissue-repair technologies coming out of research led by Prof Fergal O’Brien and Dr John Gleeson at the RCSI. “They have been looking at the triggers that are needed in the body to produce a host tissue response where tissue gets regenerated,” he said. “And with that understanding they have developed this highly effective product that can induce the reaction using natural ingredients.”

In practice, HydroxyColl would be used as a surgical implant to stimulate the growth of bone, and the fact that the graft does not need to be previously loaded with cells or drugs should make regulatory approval more straightforward, Mr Philpott said.

The preclinical trials phase is complete and the focus is now on scale-up and clinical trials. The investment in SurgaColl will support the company in commercialising the bone graft material, according to Mr Philpott. “Bone grafting is a multibillion euro industry and we are targeting the synthetics end, looking to bring HydroxyColl to market first in Europe and then the US,” he said.

The RCSI group is developing a pipeline of technologies relating to tissue repair, and SurgaColl plans to bring further products to market that target other tissues, such as cartilage, Mr Philpott said.