How to turn a promising laboratory research into successful company?
BioHealing was established as a business entity with the aim of commercialising the discoveries made at the National Centre for Tissues and Cells. The company is particularly proud of its unique patches containing a substance from human placenta which has extraordinary healing properties.
Usage of regenerative medicine has been recently on the rise, especially in the United States since about 2000 and the trend also applies to the Czech Republic, among other countries.
At the beginning of the BioHealing project was Michal Zahradníček, co-owner of the National Tissue and Cell Centre in Brno – one of the largest tissue banks in Central Europe and also the largest multi-tissue bank in the Czech Republic.
The possibility of using amniotic membrane was discussed between Mr. Zahradníček and Jim Forsil (USA), who helped establish the tissue centre, for so long that the idea of using it for chronic non-healing wounds took hold. Thus the research began.
BioHealing’s flagship product Amnioderm is used for chronic wounds, especially those associated with diabetes. The diabetic foot, for instance, is a serious problem that is not discussed enough in society. It is an open wound staying in this stage because the natural healing process of such patients is disturbed. These patients often have such an open wound not only for weeks but for months, even years. Understandably, patients are fundamentally limited by this condition for many reasons.
The aim of Amnioderm development was to make healing possible at all and also to speed it up considerably. According to Iveta Schmiedová, this has been successful; for example, a patient who had an open wound for thirteen years was able to close it in about two months with the patches. It is also important that due to the effect of amniotic membrane, the skin on the former wound is flexible and firm and the wound does not open again, said Iveta Schmiedová.
BioHealing’s patches are largely composed of amniotic membrane, which is a tissue that is part of the human placenta, one of the amniotic membranes. As Iveta Schmiedová explained, a large number of different properties are attributed to this tissue, e.g. it is non-immunogenic, has developed repair mechanisms, etc. And it also has unique regenerative properties. The company tries to capture and preserve these within its products. Simply put, BioHealing products replicate these extraordinary regenerative effects, creating a so-called homeostatic, i.e. equilibrium environment and promoting regeneration as such.
As part of the story about the company’s beginnings, Iveta Schmiedová also commented on the issue of the difficult process of creating a spin-off company in the Czech Republic. According to some voices, scientists are not too keen to leave the comfort zone of the laboratory and sometimes are scientists who set up a spin-off almost considered thieves.
The transition from scientific labs to business is not easy as the head of BioHealing confirmed herself. According to her, it is a very dynamic process necessarily requiring support of investors. For BioHealing, this was the aforementioned Michal Zahradníček, the owner and founder, who also acted as a kind of engine for further efforts.
Development of both new products and new processing processes is BioHealing´s absolute foundation. The company is to some extent engaged in manufacturing as well as selling licenses. Today, it is in the phase of bringing out a second generation of patches which should no longer be referred to as a tissue transplant, but as a medical device.
That is a big shift, because tissue tranplants are being very tightly regulated. And if the amniotic membrane would be part of a medical device, its use would no longer be fixed to doctors only, but nurses and people in home care would also be able to apply it.
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