Houston Innovators Podcast episode 135

Houston cell therapy company prepares to IPO, move into new facility

Pete O'Heeron leads FibroBiologics as CEO and chairman. Photo via Fibrobiologics.com

Stem cells have had their time in the spotlight for a while, and now it's time for fibroblasts to have their moment, according to Pete O’Heeron, CEO, founder, and chairman of FibroBiologics, a Houston-based company that’s using fibroblast cell technology to treat a variety of chronic diseases.

The two types of cells are the only ones that can be used in cell therapy for a regenerative treatment, meaning that specialists can take healthy stem cells and fibroblasts from a patient and inject them into a part of the body that needs it the most. And, according to O'Heeron and his team, fibroblasts can do it more effectively and cheaper than stem cells.

"(Fibroblasts) can essentially do everything a stem cell can do, only they can do it better," says O'Heeron on this week's Houston Innovators Podcast. "We've done tests in the lab and we've seen them outperform stem cells by a low of 50 percent to a high of about 220 percent on different disease paths."

With over 150 patents issued or pending, O'Heeron's team has the most intellectual property surrounding fibroblasts in the world and, while there is a lot of activity in the stem cell space, they are the leader when it comes to fibroblasts, he says. FibroBiologics is the name of the entity O'Heeron is hoping to take public by the end of the year, but the business originated as SpinalCyte, specializing in spinal treatment, before evolving into FibroGenesis as the technology began treating more parts of the body.

"With fibroblasts being the most common cell in the human body, you have to assume its involved in every process of the human body," O'Heeron says. "There's literally not biological process in the body where fibroblasts are not involved."

The strongest treatments under FibroBiologics's umbrella are for degenerative disc disease, orthopedics, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. With these applications progressing, O'Heeron has imminent IPO plans for the company.

"We're in the process of getting the company public so that we can have access to the resources to do larger scale human trials. So, I think over the next year you'll see us launch at least two large scale human trials with fibroblast with the intention of submitting to the FDA for commercialization," O'Heeron says.

The company is in the process of building out a new 14,000-square-foot-space that will allow FibroBiologics to house its office, lab, and manufacturing space under one roof for the first time.

"These are fantastic robust cells, and we want to be able to control the quality and potency of them and how they ship out and how we're able to transfer those cells to the end user," O'Heeron says.

He shares more about the company and the impact he expects fibroblasts to have on cell therapy treatment. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

Here's your latest roundup of innovation news you may have missed. Photo via Getty Images

It's been a new month and a few Houston startup wrapped up November with news you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, three Houston startups across health care, space, and sports tech have some news they announced recently.

Houston digital health company launches new collaboration

Koda Health has a new partner. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston-based Koda Health announced a new partnership with data analytics company, CareJourney.

"This collaboration will aim to develop benchmarking data for advance care planning and end-of-life metrics," the company wrote on LinkedIn. "Koda will provide clinical and practice-based expertise to guide the construction of toolkits, dashboards, and benchmarks that improve ACP programs and end-of-life outcomes."

Koda Health announced the partnership in November..

“Beyond the checkbox of a billing code or completed advance directive, it’s important to build and measure a process that promotes thoughtful planning among patients, their care team, and their loved ones,” says Desh Mohan, MD, Koda's chief medical officer, in the post.

CareJourney was founded in 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I'm hopeful next-generation quality measures will honor the patient’s voice in defining what it means to deliver high quality care, and our commitment is to measure progress on that important endeavor," noted Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney's co-founder and president.

Sports tech startup raises $500,000 pre-seed investment

BeONE Sports has created a technology to enhance athletic training. Photo via beonesports.com

Houston-founded BeONE Sports, an athlete training technology company, announced last month that it closed an oversubscribed round of pre-seed funding. The company announced the raise on its social media pages that the round included $500,000 invested.

Earlier in November, BeONE Sports completed its participation in CodeLaunch DFW 2022. The company was one of six finalists in the program, which concluded with a pitch event on November 16.

Space tech company snags government contracts

Graphic via cognitive space.com

The U.S. Air Force has extended Houston-based Cognitive Space’s contract under a new TACFI, Tactical Funding Increase, award. According to the release, the contract "builds on Cognitive Space’s work to develop a tailored version of CNTIENT for AFRL to achieve ultimate responsiveness and optimized dynamic satellite scheduling via a cloud-based API.

The $1.2 million award follows a $1.5 million U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award that the company won in 2020 to integrate CNTIENT with commercial ground station providers in support of AFRL’s Hybrid Architecture Demonstration program.

“The TACFI award allows Cognitive Space to continue supporting AFRL’s vitally important HAD program to help deliver commercial space data to the warfighter,” says Guy de Carufel, the company’s founder and CEO, in the releasee. “CNTIENT’s tailored analytics platform will enable HAD and the GLUE platform to integrate modern statistical approaches to optimize mission planning, data collection, and latency estimation.”

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