Oxford university spin-off wields $4.3M to revolutionise knee replacement surgery

Orthox

Injuries to the knee cartilage cause crippling disability, often leading to osteoarthritis and the eventual need for replacement of the joint. However, the crucial concern about the total knee replacement procedures is the lifespan of joint replacement devices, particularly when implanted in younger patients.

On the other hand, to prevent knee replacement surgery, many patients are advised to limit activity or risk deterioration of the joint. Here’s where UK-based Orthox comes into play with an alternative that provides strong, resilient, natural implants capable of restoring knee function while allowing the body’s own cells to grow through and integrate with the device. 

Raised $4.3M

Recently, the clinical-stage company spun out of Oxford University, announced that it has secured $4.3M (£3.2M) funding as an extension to close Series A funding at $12.5M (£9.2M). 

The current financing round was led by Parkwalk, with participation from existing shareholders, including Oxford Technology & Innovations EIS Fund (OTIF) and Perivoli Innovations. New investors participating include Additio Investment Group, an experienced life science fund manager.  

Parkwalk recently also invested in Pathfinder, a UK-based medical device startup that hopes to transform dialysis treatment less invasive and Oxford-based company Brainomix, speeding up stroke care with AI imaging.

This announcement comes after another Oxford University spinout ONI, the inventor of super-resolution microscope marked $75M funding recently.

How will the funding be used?

The new capital injection will support further clinical trials of its lead product, FibroFix, at Southmead Hospital Bristol, UK, and Budapest, Hungary. To date, the company has raised over £21M, including awards from leading biomedical funding programmes.

Commenting on the financing, Nick Skaer, co-founder, and CEO of Orthox says, “This $12.5m Series A financing round from a range of high-quality medtech investors reflects the strong progress we are making with our award-winning FibroFix product platform. FibroFix is unique in emulating the functional properties of cartilage while also facilitating rapid tissue regeneration in patients suffering the debilitating effects of serious knee cartilage injuries. With our approach, there is significant bone sparing and strong tissue integration of the implant, which will result in much faster patient recovery from surgery.”

Natural implants to restore knee function

Founded by life scientist, Dr. Nick Skaer, and knee surgeon, Professor Oliver Kessle in 2008, Orthox is a clinical-stage company developing medical devices to repair damaged cartilage and other orthopaedic injuries.

Orthox’s proprietary technology, FibroFix is a natural biomaterial that is uniquely suited to addressing injuries to cartilage tissue. It is a revolutionary tissue scaffold based on fibroin, a tissue regenerative protein extracted from silk fibres. 

How does it work?

FibroFix is targeted at treating injuries to the articular cartilage in the knee which covers the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). It protects the surface of these bones and allows the joint to operate smoothly. They’re delivered in smooth, anatomically shaped devices that combine exceptional strength and resilience with the capacity to support the regeneration of the patient’s own tissue. FibroFix implants remove only the damaged tissue, employing bone-sparing, minimally invasive surgical techniques which enable rapid patient rehabilitation. 

Further, the technology offers the potential for better long-term outcomes, nurturing the body’s innate capacity to heal itself. As per the company’s claims, FibroFix products have the potential to address an annual market in the knee joint alone estimated at over $2B. Orthox employs 18 people at its site in Oxfordshire.

Clinical trial 

Orthox says the pivotal clinical trial is expected to open for recruitment later this year with the first cohort of six patients and six months follow-ups. This will demonstrate initial safety following which the trial will be expanded to 75 patients with two years of follow-up. 

Investor

Parkwalk is a growth EIS fund manager that backs disruptive technologies emerging from the UK’s leading universities and research institutions. With £360M of assets under management, it has invested in over 150 companies across its Parkwalk Opportunities and Knowledge-Intensive EIS Funds. 

The company invests in businesses creating solutions to real-world challenges, with IP-protected innovations, across a range of sectors including life sciences, AI, quantum computing, advanced materials, genomics, cleantech, future of mobility, medtech, and big data. 

Lead investor Parkwalk’s Investment Director, Neil Cameron, comments, “We see tremendous potential in Orthox’s product platform FibroFix to enable people with orthopaedic injuries to quickly bounce back into doing everyday life activities. Tissue regeneration to treat major cartilage defects is projected to be a $7bn market by 2024. We also see specific value in supporting athletes rapidly returning to form following sports injuries. Parkwalk is excited to be continuing our support for Orthox in this next stage of growth.”

New investor, Additio Investment Group’s Raj Airey, comments, “What attracted us to invest in Orthox is the medical technology experience of Nick and his team, and their laser focus on developing the company’s unique approach to knee repair, FibroFix. Not only does FibroFix offer swift surgery and recovery, but it is minimally invasive, and nurtures the body’s innate capacity to heal itself. That’s a winning proposition to take into new clinical trials this year.”

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