Regenerative medicine company Orthocell (ASX: OCC) has been granted a key patent for a 16-year period relating to a potential breakthrough CelGro collagen rope device to enhance the surgical repair of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
In a statement to the market, Orthocell said its patent was now approved in Australia, Japan and the US which provides important intellectual property to protect the CelGro platform for soft tissue regeneration and repair applications.
According to Orthocell, CelGro is a unique collagen medical device that augments tissue repair and regeneration while offering “distinct competitive advantages” over existing tissue repair devices, particularly in the areas of cell compatibility, mechanical properties and facilitating high-quality tissue repair.
The device is utilised for a variety of applications including dental, nerve and tendon repair and can reportedly augment the repair of various tendons such as the rotator cuff tendon in the shoulder and to assist re-joining of severed or damaged peripheral nerves.
However, it will now be purposed towards ACL injury treatment – a multibillion-dollar market that is often in the headlines due to high-profile professional athletes.
“There are currently no off-the-shelf solutions that mimic human ligament to enable the optimal repair of ACL injuries,” Orthocell’s managing director Paul Anderson said.
“The CelGro collagen rope addresses this problem, designed to augment ACL reconstruction without the need to harvest the patient’s hamstring tendon,” he said.
Having received key patent recognition in the US, Orthocell said it is now well-positioned to deliver a fully-fledged “breakthrough product” to patients in key territories with high demand for such tendon surgeries in 2020.
As things stand, Orthocell is in the process of completing a pre-clinical study using CelGro collagen rope for ACL reconstruction and will provide a full results report by the end of March 2020.
Anterior cruciate ligament market
ACL injuries are a fairly common phenomenon at both professional and amateur levels of high-impact sports such as football and rugby.
A ruptured ACL typically requires surgical intervention including extensive periods of rehabilitation before patients can return to preinjury capacity.
According to medical professionals, if an ACL is ruptured it becomes incapable of healing which means extensive periods on the side-lines for professional athletes and can often lead to a premature end to high-profile careers altogether.
Famous athletes that have suffered ACL injuries include football stars Michael Owen and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as well as American football star Tom Brady, considered to be the best quarterback of all time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain underwent several surgeries and spent more than 16 months on the side-lines before being able to compete at a professional level again. Tom Brady required around 12 months while Michael Owen was only able to run again after eight months of surgeries, physiotherapy and bespoke rehabilitation.
Currently ACL treatment involves reconstruction surgery using hamstring tendon grafts, whereby part of the patient’s tendon is removed and used to replace the ruptured ACL.
Such procedures involve significant risks and can result in ongoing hamstring discomfort, prolonged recovery times and often means the tendon is more susceptible to a future rupture.
Orthocell says it is confident that it can deliver a new method of treating ACL injuries that greatly expedites recovery times for athletes while mitigating many of the existing risks.
The company says it has developed an alternative to tendon graft made from “braided collagen fibres”, otherwise known as CelGro collagen rope. The rope is used to improve treatment efficiency and effectiveness by simplifying repair techniques as part of reconstruction surgery.
Initial pre-clinical results indicate the CelGro collagen rope has “superior biomechanical properties” and is capable of replacing hamstring grafts for ACL reconstruction.
Currently, there are over 200,000 ACL ruptures every year in the US alone, with up to a quarter of patients needing supplemental surgeries as they progress towards full recovery.
If successful, the CelGro rope will provide a unique Australian-made solution to a common problem and a global market estimated in excess of $3 billion per year.
“We are extremely excited by the potential of this technology and I look forward to releasing the pre-clinical results in Q1 2020,” said Mr Anderson.
This morning’s news helped Orthocell shares lift 1% to $0.565.