Hyalex Orthopaedics snags medtech vet Mark Roby as R&D chief

“Synthetic cartilage” maker Hyalex Orthopaedics has a new vice president of R&D: Mark Roby, Ph.D. He joins from BI Medical, which makes prosthetic liners for amputees, where he was CEO. 

Roby’s experience spans R&D, production, quality, clinical, marketing and sales at companies like C. R. Bard, Covidien and Salient Surgical—both of which were snapped up by Medtronic. 

"Mark's strategic acumen and proven track record of leadership delivering over 25 complex and innovative medical surgical products to market made him the ideal choice to lead our R&D organization," said Hyalex CEO Mira Sahney in a statement Monday. "We are pleased to have Mark join our company as we work to bring our novel technology platform into the clinic and the marketplace." 

Roby is the inventor on more than 50 patents relating to polymers and adhesives; this know-how will be a boon for Hyalex as it works to bring a synthetic polymer that mimics cartilage into the clinic. 

RELATED: Wright to absorb Cartiva and its arthritis cartilage implant in $435M deal

The Boston-area medtech is working on new implant systems using its “synthetic cartilage” for the treatment of conditions like osteoarthritis. Also called “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million adults in the U.S. It is typically treated with a combination of physical activity and weight loss, support devices, physical therapy and pain-relieving drugs. Severe cases may need joint replacement surgery, an invasive procedure that Hyalex hopes to ward off with its devices. 

The company raised a $16 million series A in May 2017 and bumped that up to $33 million earlier this year. Licensed from Stanford University, the Hyalex technology is a synthetic biomaterial that behaves like the hyaline cartilage that lines joints such as the hip, knee and shoulder. 

“While joint replacement surgery is a viable option for many patients experiencing joint degeneration, younger patients may encounter some limitations in mobility and face future joint revisions,” said Wende Hutton, general partner for Canaan Partners, which led the financing in 2017. A less invasive approach, such as Hyalex's, could be more appropriate for younger patients.