The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has provided funding to life science company Tissium to address the unmet medical needs of patients with Crohn’s disease, specifically to advance technology that can potentially promote tissue healing.
The undisclosed amount of capital is from the foundation’s IBD Ventures, which offers annual funding of up to $500,000 for projects aimed at speeding the discovery and development of novel science-based products that could ease inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms. Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are the two most common forms of IBD.
France-based Tissium plans to use the funds to assess an innovative technology based on the company’s biomorphic programmable polymers. The technology is said to promote healing of anal fistulas without negatively affecting continence or the sphincter.
About 10% to 15% of Crohn’s disease patients develop fistulas, which are small, abnormally formed channels that connect the area close to the anus and outside skin area, and cause constant, throbbing pain.
Current treatments include antibiotics, immunosuppressants, anti-tumor necrosis factor medicines, and surgery (fistulectomy). None, however, produce enduring benefits, and all carry complications and safety risks and concerns.
“We believe the Tissium technology platform has the potential to transform the way fistulas are treated,” said Gerard Honig, PhD, the foundation’s associate director of research innovation, in a press release. “Patients are often met with the dilemma of receiving an effective treatment at the expense of fecal incontinence and other health and quality of life challenges. We are encouraged by Tissium’s novel approach to develop a technique to promote fistula healing and address the pressing clinical need.”
Tissium’s platform leverages technology that was initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School. The platform is the basis of an array of synthetic, biomorphic, and programmable polymers that can be used inside the body as sealants, adhesives, barriers, or plugs. The polymers can also be used to transport therapies or as implantable devices created through 3D printing technology.
This polymer family has unique properties, including the ability to conform to, and integrate with, surrounding tissue to foster natural healing. In addition, the polymers’ design allows for tailoring to match tissue-specific requirements for different therapeutic areas.
The company said the foundation’s support will help it expand its platform and develop better treatment options.
“We aim to leverage our programmable polymer platform to revolutionize how tissue repair happens in the body, supporting healing while limiting trauma for a better long-term outcome for the patient,” said Maria Pereira, Tissium’s chief innovation officer. “Leveraging the adhesive and tissue ingrowth properties of our polymer formulations, we aim to design a more effective solution for patients.”
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization focused on IBD research and patient support. IBD is said to affect more than three million U.S. residents, with as many as 70,000 new cases diagnosed annually.