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Hebrew U's Yissum Licenses Stem-Cell IP to TheraCell for Spinal Fusion Procedures

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Yissum Research Development Company, the tech-transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has licensed a portfolio of stem cell-related technologies to biotech firm TheraCell for use in regenerative medical procedures such as spinal fusion.

The technology was invented by a team led by Dan Gazit, a professor from the faculty of dental medicine at Hebrew University. It includes a biologically compatible, oxygenated gel that improves bone regeneration and fusion of bone grafts by increasing local oxygenation and fusion rates at the surgical site.

TheraCell, based in Northridge, Calif., said that it will use the technology in conjunction with its proprietary scaffold technology for enhancing the efficiency of spinal fusion procedures. The combined product is recognized as a medical device, enabling an expedited regulatory pathway, Yissum said.

The licensing agreement also covers a method for purifying and manipulating autologous stem cells derived from patients. TheraCell said that it will use the method in combination with a future injectable or transplantable version of the scaffold that will enable an injectable therapy for spine disorders.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In a statement, Rich Grant, president and CEO of TheraCell, said that the US spinal fusion market is estimated to be worth more than $6 billion annually with more than 500,000 surgeries performed each year.

"With this technology, we expect to be able to deliver products that are highly attractive to patients, healthcare providers, and insurance payors, because they will significantly improve outcomes of these costly spine fusion procedures and reduce hospitalization periods, thus significantly lowering the cost of treatment," Grant said.

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