Buffalo-based startup developing biotech that could ‘prevent a lot of suffering’

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Source: Buffalo Business First

Approximately two million Americans get knee or hip implants each year.

About 50,000 of those people will contract an infection – with bacteria forming a slimy biomass around the implant that is challenging to treat.

Doctors and patients then face a cascade of difficult choices. The artificial implant must be removed, and patients receive antibiotics from four to six weeks. Then they must wait another six to eight weeks before another artificial joint is inserted into their body.

Of those 50,000 people who get infections, about 20 percent endure what Wayne Bacon calls a poor clinical outcome such as a fused joint, amputation or death.

Bacon believes his company can end such widespread suffering. Garwood Medical Devices – founded in 2014 by Bacon and Gregg Gellman – is starting to see the finish line for their Biofilm Disruption Device, which uses technology commercialized out of the University at Buffalo.

The patented, minimally invasive electronic device uses something called “cathodic voltage” to create conditions unfavorable for biofilm growth and survival. The treatment allows body’s natural immune response, with the help of antibiotics, to fight off the infection.

Garwood leaders expect to spend next year finalizing development, talking to commercial partners and navigating the federal regulatory process, with a target of being able to sell the devices, Bacon said.

Garwood is set up as a biotechnology development shop, with a variety of research partners and an internal laboratory at its headquarters in the UB’s Gateway Building in downtown Buffalo. Bacon said there may be a day when the company can advance technologies through its own infrastructure, but for now major companies are expected to support the manufacturing and distribution processes.

It’s not the only iron Garwood has in the fire:

The company expects to fully commercialize its EnerAid™ Active Bandage System in the “not so distant future,” according to Gellman. The product aims to decrease patient visits by allowing clinical care both at the hospital and at home.

A third product under development is a self-calibrating PH circuit, which Garwood and UB are co-developing under a university Center for Advanced Technology Grant. Both entities are contributing $54,000 for further development. A fourth involves a $1 million federal grant between partners UB, Garwood and Intel to investigate a technology that is capable of spotting cancer biomarkers from a blood sample.

Bacon said the company is currently raising a $3 million Series B round to which $1.8 million has been committed, which is expected to close this year. They are raising the round on a $20 million pre-money valuation. Sixteen of the 19 local investors from the company’s Series A round (on a $10 million pre-money valuation) are contributing again.

Garwood is among 13 local startups that have acknowledged private, growth-oriented financing this year. The list includes ACV Auctions ($31 million), PostProcess Technologies ($7.8 million), Viridi Parente ($4.05 million), CleanFiber ($6.46 million raised this year), Circuit Clinical ($1.75 million), Drone Energy ($1 million), Ru’s Pierogi ($1 million), 3AM Innovations ($1 million), Buffalo Automation ($900,000), EcoVerde ($450,000), RepHike ($195,000) and OmniSeq (undisclosed).

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