VCs Connect with Cartilage Companies

Carticept, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based developer of medical devices that help repair cartilage defects, has quietly raised $23 million in additional Series A funding from return backers Domain Associates and New Enterprise Associates. If the company doesn’t ring a bell, that’s probably because it was called Windward Medical Inc. when it scored $2.55 million in startup funding in late 2005. Expect a formal press release soon.

In the meantime, I did a quick database run to see how many other VC-backed medical device companies specialize in the cartilage repair space. The only limitations I used were that “cartilage” had to be in the business description, and the company must have raised at least one institutional dollar since the beginning of 2005. The results obviously don’t come close to the cardio or metabolic spaces, but there were still more deals than I would have expected:

ArthroSurface Inc., a Franklin, Mass.-based developer of a system to resurface significant cartilage lesions in middle-aged patients. It includes a 3D mapping technology, universal instruments and a precisely matched implant – with specific systems for shoulders, hips and feet/ankles. ArthroSurface has raised $25 million in total VC funding since its 2002 inception, from firms like Boston Millennia Partners. www.arthrosurface.com 

ISTO Technologies Inc., a St. Louis-based developer of cartilage regeneration products that are designed for delivery via minimally-invasive procedures. Its three current products are: Neocartilage, a manufactured, scaffold-free living cartilage graft grown from juvenile cartilage cells, is designed to repair and restore joint function in the knee; NuQu, an injectable formulation of juvenile cartilage cells developed for nucleus regeneration in the spine; and InQu, a scaffold made from hybrid biomaterials intended for tissue repair and bone regeneration. ISTO has raised around $17 million in total VC funding since 2000, from firms like Alafi Capital, Life Sciences Partners, Mid-Atlantic Transplant Services and Zimmer. www.istotech.com

Histogenics Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of cartilage regeneration products that use biomechanical stimulation, novel materials and the patient’s own cells to produce cartilage outside the body for re-implantation. Kind of similar to what ISTO is doing. A second product will use an acelluar version of the same technology to produce cartilage inside the body. Histogenics last year raised $13.1 million in Series a funding from firms like Boston Millennia Partners and Foundation Medical Partners. www.histogenics.com 

OsteoBiologics Inc., a San Antonio, Texas-based developer of resorbable scaffolds and related instrumentation for the repair and replacement of bone and articular cartilage. It was acquired last year by Smith & Nephew for $72.3 million, after having raised around $35 million from firms like Woodside Fund, PTV Sciences and Thomas McNerney & Partners. www.obi.com

Cartilix Inc., a Foster City, Calif.-based developer of biomaterials to repair damaged tissues in articular joints. It also will develop biomaterials for use in the spine, eye and reconstructive plastic surgery. Last year it raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by De Novo Ventures. www.cartilix.com

ReGen Biologics Inc., a Franklin Lakes, N.J.-based biological remodeling company that develops and manufactures implants and medical devices for the regeneration and repair of knee meniscal cartilage, spinal intervertebral discs and other connective tissues. The company is listed on the OTC BB, but recently raised some PIPE funding from former VC backer Sanderling Ventures. www.regenbio.com

Cartificial AS, a Denmark-based developer of a product that would be used instead of the classic hip prostheses, and with the potential to be inserted during day care surgery. It has raised under $1 million in first-round funding from undisclosed backers. www.cartificial.com

Verigen Transplantation Services International AG, a Germany-based developer of surgical techniques and products that allow surgeons to cover defect  cartilage with a reabsorbable porcine collogen membrane. It was acquired in 2005 by Genzyme, and previously had raised over $22 million in funding from firms like Candover, HgCapital and Deutsche Bank. www.verigen.com

TiGenix NV, a Belgium-based regenerative medicine company focused on local treatments for damaged and osteoarthritic joints. Its lead product ChondroCelect is currently in Phase III trials, and focuses on cartilage defects in the knee. It has raised over $36 million in VC funding since its 2000 inception, from firms like Auriga Partners, Capricorn Venture Partners, Fortis Private Equity, Gemma Frisius Fonds, HSS Ventures, Partners @Venture and Societe Regtionale d’Investissement de Wallonie. www.tigenix.com

There also were a couple of VC-backed drug companies with products related to cartilage repair, including Acceleron Pharma, Cartela and Osteologix.