Medical Device Daily Contributing Writer

ZICHRON YA’AKOV, Israel — Hadasit, the technology transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO; Jerusalem, Israel), is reinventing its own wheel.

Hadasit revolutionized the transition of IP from academic clinical research into applied product oriented companies by creating a public entity, Hadasit Bio Holdings, mainly for biopharma developments.

Now it is about to launch an accelerator dedicated to the 20 medical device products in its development pipeline based on projects, according to Stuart Bernstein, Hadasit vice president and head of marketing, as well as manager of the Business Unit for Devices & Diagnostics.

The plan is to select about 10 of the most promising devices under development and to raise capital in a private placement that would yield about $1 million for each project.

The financing will support projects inside the accelerator and continue after they “graduate” and are able to raise other funds independently, Ophir Shahaf, vice president of Hadasit Bio-Holdings, told Medical Device Daily.

The projects include a stent-positioning system, a new neck brace and a full-torso dynamic brace for scoliosis.

$7.5M for biotech/device firm

Regentis Biomaterials (Haifa, Israel) a hybrid biotech/device start-up, reported that it had raised $7.5 million to continue development of its implant to repair damaged cartilage.

The company raised the funds from undisclosed private investors.

ProSeed Venture Capital Fund held 3.25% of Regentis before the round, but did not participate, lowering its share to 0.8% of the company. Proseed holds an option of acquiring the stake of the Office of the Chief Scientist, which would return its holding to 2.5% after full dilution.

Regentis has developed a tissue regeneration platform, Gelrin.

Yehiel Tal, co-founder and CEO, told MDD, “Gelrin technology is a biosynthetic hybrid hydrogel with a biological backbone and synthetic cross-links that stimulate unprecedented healing with cross-links that provide superior structural characteristics.”

Tal said that Gelrin is a fully controllable biodegradable device that can be precisely regulated.

“The ability to form Gelrin in situ at the site of the defect provides the possibility of using it with minimally invasive surgical procedures,” Tal said. “Other materials degrade rapidly or leach out of the injury site prematurely, while Gelrin remains anchored during the entire healing process, a unique combination of properties that makes Gelrin highly distinctive in the orthopedic market.”

During the past three years, the start-up has demonstrated in animals that the regenerated hyaline cartilage is completely integrated with the surrounding tissue and underlying bone, making the defect indistinguishable in normal structure and function.

Regentis was founded in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa) incubator in 2004.

Device start-ups continue to raise funds

Fundraising for device start-ups has been moving at a brisk pace in Israel.

Early in August, when most companies were on vacation, Mazor Surgical (Caesaria, Israel) raised about $8 million to extend marketing of its flagship SpineAssist surgical platform, a robotic imaging tool.

• Navotek Medical (Yokneam, Israel) raised $5 million in its first financing round to develop a precise tumor location system that would help focus radiotherapy and target chemotherapy with reduced time, costs, and side effects.

• Oramed Pharmaceuticals (Jerusalem, Israel) with a market cap of $18 million, closed a private placement to develop its oral diabetes treatment, a specially engineered gel capsule able to protect insulin from the destructive effects of gastric juice and still deliver insulin at levels that now require several injections per day.

The company recently launched a second oral product, an insulin inhalant.

Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron said, “The investment will ensure that Oramed has enough funds to complete Phase I trials, expected by mid-2008.”

Biochemist/pharmacologist Miriam Kidron, chairperson and founder of Oramed, developed the Oramed concept at Hadassah University Hospital (Jerusaleml). Hadasit holds part ownership of the start-up.

• LifeBond, a hemostatic solutions seed company, closed a $1.5 million financing round led by GlenRock Israel (Tel Aviv, Israel) and the Zitelman Group (Rockville, Maryland) to develop its hemostatic bandage to stop bleeding during surgery or after trauma, and reduce the need for transfusions.

The financing round will be used for a preclinical feasibility study of the product which releases a gel to creates a barrier and encourages blood clotting.

The product was compared with Omrix Biopharmaceuticals’ (Tel Aviv, Israel) human plasma-derived Quixil patch sealant, which is highly effective but far more costly than LifeBond’s synthetic gel-bonded bandage.

LifeBond CEO Ishay Attar said the company anticipates regulatory approval in the U.S., Europe and Israel during 2008.

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