Hospital group invests $20M in stem cell therapy biotech

Sanford Health is enrolling patients in a trial of InGeneron's regenerative medicine candidate

Hospital group Sanford Health has invested $20 million in InGeneron to support clinical trials of a stem cell regenerative medicine. The Series D gives Sanford a financial stake in an adipose-derived stem cell therapy it is testing in a clinical trial at its network of healthcare facilities.

InGeneron began working with Sanford on an 18-person trial of its stem cell injection in patients with partial thickness rotator cuff tears around the turn of the year. And the network of 45 hospitals and close to 300 clinics has now tightened its ties to InGeneron by investing $20 million in the Houston, TX-based regenerative medicine company. InGeneron sees benefits in strengthening its relationship with Sanford.

“This significant investment demonstrates Sanford’s commitment to be an active participant in InGeneron as well as being our clinical trial site of choice. Our joint efforts will enable the company to make regenerative cell therapies available to clinical practice and to establish a leading position in the application of adipose-derived regenerative cells,” InGeneron President Ron Stubbers said in a statement.

Sanford runs the two trial sites that are enrolling patients in the aforementioned 18-person trial. Both sites specialize in orthopedics and sports medicine. Rotator cuff injuries are associated with overhead sports, such as baseball and tennis. The healthcare system is presenting its close involvement with InGeneron as a positive for the patients it serves because it facilitates early access to an experimental therapy.

The treatment entails processing adipose tissue harvested during liposuction to create a mixture containing stem cells and nutrients. This mixture is injected into the site of the injury. In the trial, one-third of participants will form a control arm and receive a cortisone injection instead of stem cells. 

The exec team tells FierceBiotech that the first patients were enrolled in the feasibility trial for rotator cuff tendinopathy in January, with U.S. regulatory market approval "anticipated in 2020."

InGeneron last raised money last year through a $4.5 million seed round. That financing, which came 10 years after InGeneron was founded, followed studies of the company’s cell therapies in knee surgeries. InGeneron also makes biomedical equipment for collecting and processing adipose tissue.

The biotech has and its subsidiaries on both sides of the Atlantic has a team of 30 people, and has raised $38 million to date.