Histogen mounts comeback with $10M venture round

A San Diego-based biotech start-up has managed to mount a comeback after an unexpected lawsuit triggered a near-death experience last year. Histogen announced today that it has raised $10 million for its Series A round, putting the developer on track to launch clinical trials of its regenerative medical treatments.

Histogen was thrown off schedule last year after SkinMedica filed a suit against the company claiming patent infringement. The legal entanglement derailed Histogen's financing effort, forcing the biotech to lay off all its staffers. Only a core group of volunteers stayed on to continue working with borrowed lab space, CEO Gail Naughton tells FierceBiotech. But Histogen has come back and now has 17 staffers on the payroll. That number should now rise to 24 in the next few months as the biotech ramps up its manufacturing operations. Among other private investors, Secure Medical, Leonard Lavin, Lordship Ventures and Angus Mitchell contributed to the round.

Histogen's technology relies on newborn fibroblasts grown in a bioreactor that mimics an embryonic environment. The biotech has developed a hair-growth treatment that includes embryonic proteins and growth factors and demonstrated considerable promise in an exploratory study involving 25 people. Investigators plan to launch a Phase I/II clinical trial of its Hair Stimulating Complex in Singapore next spring and "hopes to also begin a clinical study of its soluble human extracellular matrix for the treatment of carcinomatosis, a rapidly progressing and debilitating cancer, mid-year."

Naughton's plan now is to raise a Series B round in the next few months and push ahead with active partnering discussions aimed at forging a global development pact, which would fund the company through a Phase III hair study as well as early-stage cancer work.

"We are in late-stage negotiations with two companies right now" which have a strong focus on dermatology, says Naughton.

- check out the Histogen release