EDISON, N.J., May 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Hackensack Meridian Health has invested in EpiBone, Inc., a biotechnology company targeting the growth of personalized bone and cartilage grafts using stem cell technologies and 3D imaging and designs.
This investment in a clinical-stage regenerative medicine company is Hackensack Meridian Health's fourth through the Bear's Den, the health network's successful innovation program.
"Our industry is going to be transformed by how we leverage cellular biology and new tissue engineering to help the body repair itself, and replace damaged tissue from the impact of chronic and disabling diseases," said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, the chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. "Our goal is to back innovative evidence-based approaches and products. We are confident in the science, and solutions, EpiBone brings to the market."
"We are proud of our work, and are excited to be working more closely with Hackensack Meridian Health," said Nina Tandon, Ph.D., MBA, the CEO and co-founder of EpiBone. "Our goal is to harness the power of regenerative medicine to help as many patients as possible, and having help from a world-class hospital system like Hackensack Meridian Health will only serve to expedite our work."
EpiBone's Craniomaxillofacial, or EB-CMF, product is being tested in its first trials as a treatment for ramus continuity defects in the mandible (jaw). The company was granted Investigational New Drug clearance to proceed with a Phase I/II clinical trial of the product last May.
EB-CMF is a living, anatomically correct bone graft made from a patient's own fat-derived stem cells. First, a CT scan of the patient's defect area leads to the creation of a bone scaffold. The patient's fat tissue is then extracted, from which stem cells are isolated, and expanded. The resulting cells are then seeded onto the scaffold within a bioreactor, where they are subjected to warmth, pressure, and a steady flow of nutrients – all of which coaxes the stem cells to differentiate into osteoblasts, cells that begin to lay down new bone matrix. Once the graft has had a chance to mature in the bioreactor, it is then implanted into the patient's body, where it naturally integrates with the native bone.
Pain, surgical and hospital time can all be potentially reduced when compared to other surgical options.
With EpiBone's proprietary methods of creating a bespoke bone graft, bone missing because of genetic defects, traumatic injury, or lost through illness can be replaced.
"I was trained to replace like with like, bone with bone. To be able to accomplish that task with the patient's own bone without harvesting and shaping it would be ideal," said Robert Morin, M.D., a specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health. "Technology such as EpiBone's is tremendously exciting and will radically redefine approaches to procedures and treatments in the future."
"The Bear's Den program continues to invest in exciting companies at the vanguard of medicine," said David Perlin, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI). "This kind of transformative health venture is what we envisioned when we started planning for the CDI's Institute for Restorative Health."
EpiBone is also exploring using the same technology to replace cartilage, and treat osteochondral injuries, among other applications.
Launched in 2017, Bear's Den features a panel of experts, including Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett, leading physicians, key network executives, venture capitalists, patent attorneys, who gather regularly to vet proposals from entrepreneurs. The health network's novel incubator has vetted many products and strategies to streamline care delivery, reduce infections, lower hospital readmissions and help patients partner in their care with physicians.
ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.
Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children's hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.
Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 34,100 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
The network's notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker's Healthcare's "150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019" list.
The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.
Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.
ABOUT EPIBONE: EpiBone, Inc. is a privately-held, clinical-stage regenerative medicine company focused on skeletal reconstruction. Sitting at the intersection of biology and engineering, the company harnesses the power of stem cells to create living solutions that become a seamless part of a patient's body. EpiBone is currently developing a pipeline of bone, cartilage, and compound (bone and cartilage) products. For more information, visit: https://www.epibone.com/.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR DISCOVERY AND INNOVATION The Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), a newly established member of Hackensack Meridian Health, seeks to translate current innovations in science to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer, infectious diseases and other life-threatening and disabling conditions. The CDI, housed in a fully renovated state-of-the-art facility, offers world-class researchers a support infrastructure and culture of discovery that promotes science innovation and rapid translation to the clinic.