Wounds that just won’t heal may soon have ammunition to fight harder. Baltimore startup Gemstone Biotherapeutics is developing two new wound treatments—one out of Sharon Gerecht’s lab at the Whiting School of Engineering, and another from gerontologists in the school of medicine.
The company is developing the topically applied remedies that CEO George Davis hopes will enter the market by 2018. In early testing, the treatments closed wounds faster than did standard care.
The first innovation, from Gerecht, contains a microscopic scaffold, or structure, that new cells can populate, healing the wound faster than you can say “biosynthetic scaffolding.” In early testing, mice had 100 percent wound closure after 14 days. Mice treated with basic dressings had less than 15 percent closure after two weeks.
“Our bodies can recognize the scaffold, which replicates natural extracellular structure, and recruit cells to fill it up,” says Davis.
The second remedy recharges mitochondria—the tiny energy factories inside cells—in and around the foot sores of people with diabetes. Early testing in animals showed 12 chronic wounds closed after six weeks, while only one wound treated with standard care and placebo closed.
Gemstone licensed the scaffold technology from The Johns Hopkins University in 2013, the same year Davis co-founded the company with business partner David Oros, Gerecht, the university and Baltimore venture capital firm Gamma3. Gemstone licensed the second innovation earlier this year.
Headquartered in Federal Hill, Gemstone has lab space at Johns Hopkins’ FastForward innovation hub. The company is currently gearing up for initial FDA submittals and clinical trials.