Houston Innovators Podcast episode 135
Houston cell therapy company prepares to IPO, move into new facility
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.