Cohera Medical Solidifies Funding Round, Looks Ahead to New Testing Phase
It’s been an eventful couple of months for Patrick Daly and his team at Cohera Medical of Pittsburgh. In a relatively short period, the company has been named a “rising star” in the Pittsburgh region, solidified a major funding round and advanced plans for the initial human tests on its premiere product-a safe, absorbable, biodegradable, urethane adhesive for plastic surgery procedures.
“Right now it’s a really fun time,” says Daly, president and chief executive officer. “We’re getting ready to enter human clinical trials for our lead product. That’s the most important thing-that at the end of the day, we have a product that helps people.”
Still, recognition of your efforts doesn’t hurt. In October, Cohera won the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 2008 Tech 50 Rising Star Award, presented to the young (less than 3 years old) entrepreneurial company that offers the most unique products or services among contending companies and shows promise to become a significant economic force in the area. That strength was recognized in a much more significant way earlier in the same month when Cohera closed on a $16.1 million Series B financing round for the continued development of TissuGlu®, its new surgical adhesive for use in plastic surgery.
TissuGlu adheres flaps of tissue after surgical procedures, eliminating the spaces where fluid accumulates and reducing wound drainage. Cohera Medical is also developing surgical adhesives targeting mesh fixation and small bone fixation, which will fill similar market needs in both orthopedics and general surgery.
Growing Rapidly with Help from a Trusted Partner
Cohera, which started two years ago with an investment and support from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southwestern Pennsylvania (known as Innovation Works), has grown substantially from three to 14 employees, including professionals recruited from Florida, Michigan and North Carolina. The company will soon expand into a new 8,000-square-foot facility as it prepares for human trials of TissuGlu in Europe.
Daly says Innovation Works came in at a pivotal time for the fledgling firm. Cohera’s product started as precisely the kind of promising technology that Innovation Works seeks out for its University Innovation Grants-funds that help move research and development out of the university lab and into the commercial marketplace. Innovation Works went on to make a $100,000 investment in the company. Daly also credits Innovation Works with helping Cohera articulate its message and presentation to investors.
“When we started the company, Innovation Works was very helpful with seed money, which provided the gravitas we needed to attract potential investors,” he says. “For a startup, that was very significant.”
Beginning Clinical Testing in Europe
Daly says the company is following the practice of a majority of biopharmaceutical and medical device firms in moving to Europe for human clinical testing, which will provide the data needed for pre-market approvals in the United States.
“Our product is a strong glue that is safe to use inside the body and requires no preparation time,” Daly says. “Our preliminary studies indicate TissuGlu is as strong in one hour as a naturally healing wound is in one week. There are no adhesive products currently on the market that can be used safely and effectively inside the body.”
The flexibility of Cohera’s proprietary chemistry will allow the company to generate a whole family of adhesive products with differences in strength, set time and absorption rate to satisfy a number of niches. The medical adhesive market is estimated at $1.6 billion annually.
“We are going to grow this company to be a dominant force in this market space,” he says. “This product is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Keynotes December, 2008
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