University of Manchester spin-out Gelmetix Ltd has raised £1.2m in funding to help develop non-surgical treatment for chronic lower back pain.
The company, which was founded on the back of discoveries made at the university, has had a primary focus on the development of a revolutionary, non-surgical, gel-based treatment for chronic lower back over the past 15 years.
Gelmetix secured the funding on crowdfunding website SyndicateRoom and has created a non-invasive injectable microgel as a cost-effective alternative to surgery.
Gelmetix CEO Dr Philippe Jenny said the high-tech gel can be delivered via a non-invasive procedure into the gaps left by degenerating discs to help restore functionality and relieve lower back pain.
Despite innovation-related technical hurdles, the gel has now been fully validated for human application and a unique manufacturing process has been designed to produce the gel to scale with all the required quality and regulatory assurance.
The company has obtained a Medical Device Manufacturer ISO certification and is currently in discussion with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Whilst the company’s initial product for the spine is anticipated to enter first-in-man clinical trials in the first quarter of 2019, a second product is being developed to address pain and loss of mobility in osteoarthritic small joints.
Additionally, at the end of July 2018, Gelmetix entered into an agreement with a Portuguese company to further develop a third gel, which is intended to contribute to the repair of cartilage damages in the knee joint. This unique gel adheres to the cartilage and helps cells to repair the deficit.
Dr Philippe Jenny commented: “The signing of this agreement is a great step forward as it provides the company with a portfolio of minimally invasive solutions. These fill a gap in the continuum of care and will treat numerous patients suffering from pain in the joints or back due to the most common incapacitating diseases: joint and back degeneration and osteoarthritis.”
Professor Tony Freemont, director of Manchester Molecular Pathology Innovation Centre (MMPathIC), and founder and board member of Gelexir, has hailed the treatment's potential significance for back pain and osteoarthritis sufferers.
He said: “It has taken nearly 15 years of basic research and translational development to reach this point. It is so exciting to see this completely novel approach to treatment pass through all the regulatory processes and reach a point where we can evaluate it in patients with debilitating back pain, for whom there is no other hope for pain relief.
"The development of this product, and the work of MMPathIC are just two ways in which The University of Manchester is working towards improving patient lives through research.”
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