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Regenerative medicine firm raises $2M on path to revolutionize healthcare

Awardee Story Regenerative medicine firm raises $2M on path to revolutionize healthcare
Date: Feb 24, 2012

Source: MedCityNews

Regenerative medicine firm Miromatrix Medical, which one day aims to grow human organs, has raised $2.05 million, according to a January letter to shareholders from CEO Robert Cohen.

The two-year-old company, which counts former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty as a board member, has also formally launched a website. It was in Pawlenty’s administration that Miromatrix received two nondilutive loans totaling $500,000. Needless to say, state officials are hoping that Miromatrix will one day become an economic powerhouse.

The company is based on the stunning science of Dr. Doris Taylor, ex-director for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Cardiovascular Repair. In the lab, Taylor’s research team drained the heart of a dead rat of cellular material until only the extracellular matrix or tissue scaffold remained. Then, researchers filled the empty heart shell with cells from newborn rats and managed to create a beating animal heart, an extraordinary medical breakthrough.

The long-term goal is to create human organs using this de-cellularized technology. But to ensure that Miromatrix is going to be around for that, it needs to keep investors happy and quickly commercialize a first product. Cohen is currently focused on developing a biomesh product aimed at the hernia repair and the breast reconstruction markets to launch in a couple of years.

For that, $2 million will not suffice and the letter to shareholder notes that Cohen is looking to close out a series A with a cumulative $5 million in the bag. Aside from Cohen and Dr. Jeff Ross, vice president of product development, the company has hired a full-time employee — a senior product development engineer — and a contract employee — a senior scientist. Miromatrix will hire another full-time employee, a lab technician, soon.

The six-month contract employee will be paid from a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation, which Miromatrix won despite a tough competitive environment for federal grant dollars, the letter notes.

But aside from public money, Miromatrix appears to be attracting strategic investments, too. Johnson & Johnson has pumped $175,000 into the company in part to spur the development of the first product. The money comes with no strings attached, the letter informs. The lab work for the first product is being performed at a Glencoe, Minnesota facility into which the company moved in October.

Once the biomesh product is launched, Miromatrix plans to target other applications of its technology for the liver and heart, according to its website.

If it is successful in launching the first product, it will help to change the narrative of a fledgling, highly touted startup that has more than once found itself in the news for all the wrong reasons.

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