Back To Full Stride With Orthocell's Ortho-ATI® Therapy

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For 34-year-old Daniel Kerr, sport is life. The talented Perth-born Australian rules footballer, best known for playing 220 games for the West Coast Eagles between 2001 and 2013, is no stranger to pain for gain. 

At the peak of his career, the midfielder was widely known as one of the toughest players in the AFL – but even he wasn’t immune to the kind of injuries that not only slow players down, but stop them in their tracks. 

At the age of 28, at a time when he was one of the two highest payed players at the club, Kerr experienced what was described by medical experts as a ‘career ending’ injury. It happened mid stride, full sprint and the prognosis was grim. 

“I had a complete hamstring rupture – all three tendons completely torn off the bone,” he recalls.

“We had a full team of doctors and physios working on me, investing in my recovery. I was in full-time rehabilitation and my medical team were working full-time too, to come up with new ideas for a therapy that would work. But they had no blueprint. We looked around the world and couldn’t find any professional athletes who’d had all three hamstrings ripped off, at a high intensity level, and made it back to play professional sport.”

The first challenge was to repair the physical damage, and fast. Kerr had a titanium pin inserted to reattach the hamstring, but it quickly spelled the beginning of a whole new kind of pain.

“The pin reattached the hamstring, but I still had a huge amount of pain – a severe arthritic type pain in my hip. The hip and the tendon continued to feel like it was torn every time I ran. So we opened the wound up again to make sure that it had healed. It hadn’t healed, so we had to start all over again,” he said.

He started rehab again, but the pain in his hip returned. Now at the 11-month mark into his recovery and with every second counting at the peak of his career, he had no choice but to go under the knife again. The pin had to go.

“When we took the pin out, the pain in my hip went away, but my tendon continued to feel weak and I still had a feeling of a torn ligament or torn muscle. The message that my hamstring was sending to my brain was that it was torn, so I couldn’t resume training.”

Surprisingly, it was a local Perth invention – with origins at the University of Western Australia – that delivered the solution he’d been searching for. Perth-based biotechnology company, Orthocell, has been working away for over seven years, supported by evidence-based clinical trials, to develop an innovative treatment for acute tendon injuries. For Kerr, it was just the answer.

 “After we tried a number of different treatments, we were so lucky to have stumbled across Orthocell’s technology,” he said.

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Desperate for improvement and flying somewhat blind, Kerr embraced Orthocell’s cell therapy for tendon repair – Autologous Tenocyte Implantation (Ortho-ATI®). 

“They offered to have my cells harvested and re-injected – I didn’t really look much into it, but my doctors recommended it, so I followed their advice.”

This innovative therapy includes extracting and harvesting the patient’s own healthy tendon cells, growing them in a TGA-licensed medical facility in Perth, and then injecting the cells back into the site of the damaged tendon approximately four to five weeks later. The therapy has undergone extensive evidence-based pre-clinical and clinical trials too and available for patients in Australia, the US and Europe.

For Kerr, it was the fix he’d been waiting for.

“It allowed me to do a lot more strength work and targeted rehabilitation for the leg, which included more exercises to strengthen the tendon and take the pain away,” he said.

“It was the only thing that actually worked. Within two months I was back playing AFL. It’s fully healed.”

Kerr went on to play a further three AFL seasons and even now, most recently, he played 15 exhibition matches last year and is coaching amateurs too.

“My life is dedicated to sport. We run sports programs for kids in the desert; we run sports programs here in the city; my girls are into soccer and yoga; and my sister plays for the Matildas. Our lives revolve around sport – when it’s winter, it’s footy season, when it’s summer, it’s soccer season.”

A father of three and mad footy fan, happier than ever to be back to full stride and able to fully embrace life. 

See Channel 7 News feature story HERE.

For more information about Orthocell’s Ortho-ATI® treatment and other regenerative medicine therapies, visit orthocell.com.au


Orthocell Board Member Heralded For Lifelong Contribution To Orthopaedics

Orthocell Ltd (ASX: OCC) is today celebrating the lifelong achievements of Professor Lars Lidgren, a Swedish surgeon, researcher, entrepreneur and Orthocell board member, who has been awarded an honorary fellowship by the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Orthocell Managing Director, Paul Anderson, said the fellowship recognises significant milestones in Professor Lidgren’s career, which has spanned more than four decades, and his positive impact on patients’ lives right across the world.

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“We are so fortunate to have Professor Lidgren as a leader within our company. He is a respected board member, a primary contributor to our research efforts and a passionate advocate for the work we – and others – do globally to improve the quality of daily life,” said Mr Anderson.

Importantly too, the fellowship will support Orthocell’s research and growing suite of products entering the US.

“This is a significant achievement. The American College of Surgeons has only ever awarded nine honorary fellowships to orthopaedic surgeons since it was first established in 1913 and now Professor Lidgren is considered among the very best,” said Mr Anderson.

Professor Lidgren has been a pivotal part of Orthocell’s research and commercial development since the company was founded in 2006. He leads a productive regenerative medicine research group within the Orthopedic Department at The University Hospital of Lund in Sweden, one of the most respected in the world. He is also an honorary member and past president of several major societies.

“Professor Lidgren has personally supported innovation and start-up ventures, and has been involved in taking three successful companies to NASDAQ listings. He really is a phenomenal leader and extremely connected globally,” said Mr Anderson.

Professor Lidgren has contributed significant scientific, clinical and strategic expertise during his time working with Orthocell. In particular, he’s supported the continued validation of Celgro pre-clinically, and the expansion of Celgro’s platform in Orthopaedics as a carrier for bone active molecules and proteins. 

Professor Lidgren considers the ACS honorary fellowship a coveted achievement; but said his most significant achievements rest squarely in his work driving research and advocacy to improve patient outcomes.

“I think the reason I was selected for this fellowship is because I have been the head of one of the world’s leading orthopaedic departments for a number of years, together with my efforts to initiate the worldwide Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 (BJD),” said Professor Lidgren.

“My work with companies like Orthocell has helped with evidence-based, clinical translation of my research. Cooperation with vital stakeholders, to advocate on behalf of patients and continued innovation, is needed every step of the way too.”

The BJD initiative highlights his considered approach. It was formally launched in Geneva in January 2000 to examine the global burden of musculoskeletal diseases, and is backed by WHO, the World Bank and the United Nations. It has since gained the support of 63 national governments and more than 750 national and international patient and scientific organisations, and related journals.

“Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world. Bone and joint diseases, for example, account for more than half of all chronic conditions in persons aged 60 years and over; and back pain is the second leading cause of sick leave. It’s vital that we continue to invest in research to ease this burden,” said Professor Lidgren.

The Orthocell team couldn’t agree more.

“On behalf of our team, investors, and commercial, research and clinical partners, I have great pleasure in congratulating Professor Lidgren on achieving an honorary fellowship from the American College of Surgeons. We look forward to continuing our work together,” said Mr Anderson. 


To learn more about the Orthocell team and their growing suite of cell therapy products, visit orthocell.com.au



90+ reasons to smile

What happens when you bring 90+ expert dentistry and maxillofacial surgeon’s together in a room to unpack the burgeoning world of collagen membrane technology and digital dentistry? There are plenty of reasons to smile, that’s what.

On Tuesday 7 August 2018, Australian regenerative medicine company Orthocell (ASX:OCC) sponsored and participated in an industry forum, Advances in Osseointegration & Implantology Symposium, in partnership with The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Oral Health Centre of Western Australia. It was the first in a series of CelGro® collagen membrane education and training events to be led by the Orthocell team.  The next event will be held in Milan from 28 September 2018 and will be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Massimo Simion, a widely published and respected expert in oral medicine and member of Orthocell’s MSAB and Bimar Ortho, Orthocell’s exclusive distributor for Italy.

 Dr Brent Allan, Dr Giuseppe Luongo & Professor Ming Hao Zheng

Dr Brent Allan, Dr Giuseppe Luongo & Professor Ming Hao Zheng

For investors and supporters of Orthocell, it’s a sure sign that the Company’s commercialisation strategy is in healthy shape. Bringing together a brains trust of globally respected leaders in dentistry, to unpack and examine the potential of products such as CelGro®, is central to the team’s key opinion leader (KOL) led approach to developing its products and reaching more patients around the world.

According to Orthocell Managing Director, Paul Anderson, there was no shortage of interest and engagement in the room on Tuesday. “Oral surgeons are always on the lookout for innovative devices that improve patient outcomes and Orthocell is well positioned, with its best in class collagen scaffold, CelGro®, to gain significant market traction across key target markets,” he said. “We were delighted by the significant level of interest at the symposium with more than 90 oral surgeons and dentists attending and actively participating in the discussion.”

It was quite a line-up of experts, too.

Key presenters included Orthocell’s KOLs and members of the Company’s Medical Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB) including Dr Giuseppe Luongo, a widely published and respected maxillofacial surgeon; Dr Brent Allan, a leading West Australian maxillofacial surgeon and chief investigator for Orthocell’s guided bone regeneration clinical trial; and Professor Ming Hao Zheng, from the University of Western Australia and Orthocell’s Chief Scientific Officer. 

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So why the smiles?

The Symposium featured presentations highlighting innovations in digital dentistry solutions and collagen membrane technology for dental implant procedures. The speakers demonstrated how advances in technology are changing the way oral surgeons plan and execute dental implants enabling a personalised approach to treatment plans. And let’s face it, that’s excellent news for patients. Just ask 64-year-old Lorraine Bloodworth, who personally benefitted from CelGro® during a complex procedure for two dental implants. Lorraine was thankfully in the right hands at the right time for the procedure – her prosthodontist was participating in a trial for Orthocell’s CelGro®. “They asked if I would be willing to trial CelGro® and I was prepared to do it,” she said, with a matter-of-fact explanation that she proudly supports medical research and innovation, due to her time working in the medical field. “I had to have the teeth taken out first. Then they prepared the dental implant site using a bone graft and the CelGro collagen membrane, lifting the sinuses. Then there were scans. Then once the bone grafts had set, I had to have the dental implants sorted out. It was all day procedures.” After three months, the tissue was completely rebuilt, with the dental implants securely in place. A successful outcome that is due, in part, to the regenerative properties of CelGro®, which allows for better tissue growth and bone repair, and improved integration with existing tissue.

 Dr Dr Giuseppe Luongo

Dr Dr Giuseppe Luongo

Dr Giuseppe Luongo, a widely published and respected maxillofacial surgeon, who was in attendance on Tuesday, said “CelGro® has key advantages over other products and supports high quality tissue repair.  I am very excited to work collaboratively with the MSAB and Orthocell to establish CelGro® as a best in class scaffold for bone and soft tissue repair,” said Dr Luongo.

Patient by patient, the impact of CelGro collagen membrane and digital dentistry  technology will continue to be realised around the world – and there’s no denying the appetite from leading experts to support continued innovation in this space. It’s a team effort and THAT is reason to smile.

 

 

To learn more about the Orthocell team and their growing suite of cell therapy products, visit orthocell.com.au

 

Engineering the future, one intern at a time

 Paul Anderson (CEO, Orthocell) with Margeux Steltz

Paul Anderson (CEO, Orthocell) with Margeux Steltz

What university student would give up their hard-earned summer, leave their friends to vacation on the beach to move to the opposite hemisphere for the coldest weeks of winter to work as an intern? Penn State University biomedical engineering undergraduate student, Margeux Steltz would. And very happily.

Margeux is the fourth US college student to accept an internship with Orthocell in Perth. As winter arrived so did Margeux. On her first visit to Australia, and in fact having never been this far from home, Margeux will spend a month in Australia at Orthocell.

‘It’s been an amazing experience so far,’ said Margeux. ‘It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in a lab at school.  I certainly now have a far better understanding of clinical research and quality management systems, she reflected. ‘Cell handling was neat, experience with a digital PCR, cutting bioderived collagen medical devices and then the complexities around shipping – it’s all been really great.’

Internships, particularly international experiences like these, add tremendous value for students in offering them insight into emerging technologies and preparing them for what the jobs of the future may look like.

‘One of the reasons US interns are coming to Australia, is to access high quality internships with biotech companies driving the translation of medical research, said Paul Andersen, CEO Orthocell.  ‘We’re really delighted to have super-talented undergraduates from Australia or the US at Orthocell, investing in their future and expanding our talent search on a global scale.’

‘To make the most out of an internship opportunity you really need to approach an internship not really expecting anything’ Margeux advised. ‘It’s important to stay open minded to the experience. Be willing to assist across multiple functions of the business, to help in any way you can’.

During her internship, Marguex has been able to experience the spectrum of the Orthocell business from handling raw materials through to understanding quality management systems and associated compliance standards and finally transport logistics.

‘I’ve been really surprised by how many checks and balances there are in the Orthocell product development and manufacturing process’, said Marguex.  The company runs in such a diligent way with individuals accepting such a high degree of responsibility for the way in which the product is made and handled through to the clinic.’

‘I’ve probably enjoyed being involved in the manufacturing process the most – seeing how the scaffolding is made,’ said Margeux when asked about the elements of the internship that she has valued the most. ‘Learning from industry experts and the opportunity to put theory into practice.  The manufacturing process is fascinating.  I’m going to assist with the scaffold de-fatting process today.’

Reflecting upon her expectations and addressing the challenge, Margeux offered that coming into Orthocell was kind of intimidating at first. ‘But only because I’m going to be able to do something that not many others get to see and because I really wanted to be able to make the most of it.’

Her knowledge of bioscaffolds has advanced dramatically from theory to practice since being at Orthocell. ‘I guess I had a skewed understanding of bioscaffolds, but now with direct experience handling the materials, with a very practical view of the capabilities of the technology, I’ll go back to school with skills and experience that I know I can apply directly to my studies.’

One of the unexpected benefits of internships according to Marguex is that ‘Internships give an understanding of what it means to be part of and contribute to a high performing team. It sounds cliché but we have no experience that can prepare students for what it’s like being a part of a fast moving biomedical company like this.  ‘These experiences really shape a student’s view to know what to expect from an industry-based R&D role.’

‘Biomed right now is evolving so rapidly, it seems like anything is possible’, said Margeux.  ‘There is virtually no limit on what can be done to engineer solutions to some of medicines most complex and persistent problems.  I’m really excited for the future of bioengineering.  I certainly think I’m in the right place at the right time.’