Progress for Pervasis and InVivo: A Boost for Regenerative Efforts?

Xconomy Boston — 

Last week brought good news for two Cambridge, MA companies pursuing different methods for repairing damaged body parts. Pervasis Therapeutics, which developed a cell-based method for fixing blood vessels, was acquired by Irish drug giant Shire (NASDAQ: SHPGY) on April 12. The next day, Cambridge-based InVivo Therapeutics (OTCBB: NVIV) said it expected it would soon win clearance from the FDA to begin human trials of the spinal cord injury treatment it has been working on for years.

Both companies emanated from the lab of Robert Langer, MIT professor and prolific entrepreneur (as well as one of our Xconomists), and both have experienced the ups and downs typical in the regenerative-medicine world. InVivo hoped to begin human testing of its implant for spinal cord injury patients in 2009, but was delayed by a lack of funding, as well as lengthy discussions with the FDA about the trial protocol. Pervasis raised $46 million in venture capital from the likes of Polaris Venture Partners. In 2010, the company received permission from the FDA to begin pivotal trials of its lead product, Vascugel, but it struggled to find a partner to finance the project.

For Shire, acquiring Pervasis helps to boost the drug company’s growing capabilities in cell-based therapeutics, says Kevin Rakin, president of Shire’s regenerative medicine unit. Pervasis’ technology employs endothelial cells from the lining of blood vessels to promote healing of injuries caused by inflammation, scaring, or vascular disease. The lead indication is for patients with kidney disease who are undergoing hemodialysis. Vascugel is designed to improve the function of so-called AV grafts—dialysis access points that are created by connecting veins and arteries with plastic tubes. “About 50 percent of those grafts don’t last the first year,” Rakin says. “But when Pervasis’ cells are wrapped around those access points, it improves healing. As more patients are going into dialysis, it will become more important to prevent grafts from collapsing and to extend their life.”

Rakin says Shire bought Pervasis for a modest up-front payment, plus milestone payments that could be worth up to $200 million, pending certain developmental, regulatory, and sales achievements.

Rakin adds that Pervasis is a good fit for an earlier Shire acquisition in the regenerative-medicine realm, Advanced BioHealing, which the company bought for $750 million last year. That deal brought Shire the product Dermagraft, which treats … Next Page »

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