NEA backs Cartiva amid osteoarthritis trial

New Enterprise Associates (NEA) has dipped into its ample coffers to provide Cartiva with $4.3 million. The capital infusion backs the startup's ongoing clinical trial of a cartilage replacement implant in patients with osteoarthritis.

Specifically, the company says it has wrapped up enrollment of a 236-patient study of the implant in patients with arthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the great (or big) toe. Dubbed "Motion," the trial is comparing treatment with Cartiva's implant with standard joint fusion.

NEA invests widely in the life sciences arena and last year closed a whopping $2.6 billion fund, with hundreds of millions of dollars likely to flow into biotech and devices companies. As NEA gets its pick of many deals, Alpharetta, GA-based Cartiva has touted the investment as validation of its technology. The company has also installed NEA partner Dr. Justin Klein on its board of directors.

Orthopedic remedies such as Cartiva's have commanded investors' attention in part because of the business opportunities from treating the aging population. Cartiva's implant could also provide relief without the plates and screws required in joint fusion procedures.

"The Company has run a very high quality randomized clinical trial to demonstrate the benefits of this less invasive, motion-preserving alternative to traditional joint fusion," Klein stated. "We are looking forward to seeing the results from the study as the last patients complete follow up next year."

Cartiva, a 2011 spinoff of Carticept Medical, plans to march toward the FDA with the trial data as part of a PMA process for approval.

- here's the release