Morphoceuticals Raises $8 million to Advance Electroceutical Approach to Regenerative Medicine
Morphoceuticals, a biotechnology company, announced it closed an $8 million Seed-2 funding round led by Prime Movers Lab and initial investor Juvenescence. Morphoceuticals is pioneering the use of artificial intelligence-guided electroceuticals to regenerate limbs, repair tissues, and regenerate organs, leveraging the groundbreaking work of Professors Michael Levin and David Kaplan from Tufts University.
Morphoceuticals’ scientific founders successfully demonstrated limb regeneration in an African clawed frog in early 2022, becoming the first to achieve functional limb regeneration in an adult animal of a species that does not naturally regenerate complex limbs in adulthood. The treatment consisted of a drug cocktail applied in a wearable bioreactor on the frog’s hind leg for just 24 hours, which triggered an 18-month period of regrowth that regrew the leg and restored its functionality. Results from this work were published in Science Advances in January 2022 as “Acute multidrug delivery via a wearable bioreactor facilitates long-term limb regeneration and functional recovery in adult Xenopus laevis.”
“The growth and form of living beings is controlled by a powerful physiological software. Using our understanding of natural voltage patterns and electroceuticals, we are beginning to understand how to communicate anatomical goals to cellular collectives. The bioelectric approaches we are pursuing kickstart complex morphological subroutines that would otherwise be too complex to micromanage at the molecular level,” said Levin, Vannevar Bush Professor of Biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center, both at Tufts, and associate faculty member of the Wyss Institute. “Our goal is to identify our body’s triggers for complex anatomical outcomes. By controlling bioelectric signaling, we are seeking to eventually generate functional tissues, limbs, and organs in humans, which could greatly improve the quality of life for patients.”
“To engineer the bioelectric signaling of target tissues, we have been pioneering the development of wearable devices, such as biodomes, to establish a temporary hydrated and controlled environment at the stump site, along with the delivery of electroceuticals to trigger regenerative bioelectric signaling, all of which empowers the process,” said Kaplan, Stern Family Professor of Engineering at Tufts.
“The funding will enable us to now push forward on several fronts, including testing new electroceutical combinations for limb regeneration and amputation stump health that we can take into the clinic, as well as the development of tools that will map the bioelectric atlas of living tissues, which will be a discovery and development engine for our future therapeutics,” said Morphoceuticals CEO Michael Hufford, Ph.D.
Approximately 185,000 amputations are performed in the United States each year, and it is expected that nearly 3.6 million people will be living with the loss of an arm or a leg by 2050. “For the millions of people who have lost limbs due to diabetes, trauma, or any number of reasons, the Morphoceuticals team has moved us multiple steps closer to limb regeneration,” said Prime Movers Lab Venture Partner Amy Kruse, Ph.D., who will be joining the company’s board. “The Morphoceuticals team is pioneering the use of ion channel and gap junction modulators to induce not only limb regeneration, but to approach therapeutic indications from the top-down – using bioelectric programming – as compared to more traditional bottoms-up interventions pursued by biopharma today – focusing on manipulating cellular hardware.”
“Morphoceuticals’ approach to regenerative medicine is truly revolutionary. Traditional regenerative medicine aims to treat patients using precise cell types with precise dosing required to regenerate tissues. In contrast, Morphoceuticals’ approach aims to re-trigger the developmental programs that generated the tissue in the first place. Functionally, this means therapeutics are targeted at a higher layer of abstraction, like the difference between coding in Python versus Assembly,’ said Juvenescence Managing Director Alex Pickett. “Work on topical indications such as limb regeneration, skin repair or hair loss can help to pioneer techniques that can be applied to traumatic brain injury, organ repair, or cancer. The team has already made significant progress since our initial investment in 2020.”
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