Story provided by Alex Moe, WisBusiness.com
One of the finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Cellular Logistics, is making another run at the top prize as it pursues commercialization of its biomaterials.
Two years ago, the company submitted a plan and made it to the semifinal round before being eliminated.
“That was premature, but a good experience to go through in terms of preparation for this year, where we have a much more clear path and stronger team,” said Adam Bock, CFO for Cellular Logistics. “We’ve been here before, but it’s always exciting.”
The company just finished up a “family and friends” funding round last quarter, which raised $400,000. It’s still in its growth stages, according to Bock, who characterizes Cellular Logistics as a “virtual company” at this point.
“We have our business and tech team who operate wherever we need to be — no dedicated office or lab,” Bock said. “All work has been done at Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research.”
He added the company will be prepared to transition into a commercial space in about six months, saying “we’re right at that crossover point.”
Eric Schmuck, Cellular Logistics’ chief science officer, invented the company’s patented biomaterials and heads the studies currently being done to test them.
He initially had the idea as a grad student in the UW-Madison Department of Physiology, where he was working with materials on which to grow stem cells. He realized the material he was experimenting with had unique characteristics which could be applicable in other ways.
“It was novel; no one had done anything like it,” Schmuck said. “WARF agreed to patent the idea in 2011. We’ve been tinkering with it in UW ever since.”
The company is in the preclinical phase, currently testing an injectable supportive extracellular matrix in the hearts of mice. While results for these tests will have to wait until they are complete, Schmuck says that for earlier iterations, “tests have been extremely promising.”
He has seen “really good restoration of function,” with earlier tests, including “powerful reduction in cardiac dilation” — a good sign for heart health.
In fact, earlier tests suggest the company’s biomaterials are “able to reverse or inhibit progression to heart failure,” Schmuck says. They would be used in humans to repair damaged cardiac muscles, for patients who have experienced recent heart attacks or heart failure.
The company will be seeking approval from the FDA eventually, Schmuck said, adding that human trials could be undertaken in two or three years.
Bock says winning the contest would be “spectacular,” and that taking part is “a lot of fun.” The top 12, or “Diligent Dozen,” will be announced in late May, with the end of the contest coming in early June.