Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Strengthening of Osteoporotic Hips to Prevent Devastating Fractures

Ulrike Kettenberger; Valérie Malfroy Camine; Régis Gauderon; Dominique Pioletti

Competition Sponsor: EIT Health of the European Union

Flowbone is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute Lausanne (EPFL), founded in July 2020 after 6+ years of research and development. We aim to transform the care of elderly patients with fragile bones with the goal of preserving their mobility and independence.
Hip fractures are a huge burden: 20% of affected patients die within the first year, 50% never walk unassisted again, and the related treatment costs are very high. Anti-osteoporotic drugs, the standard of care, have a limited efficiency for the hips. Therefore, new hip-targeted, local approaches are required for hip fracture prevention, a $2.6 billion addressable opportunity in the US, growing at 8% per year.
At flowbone, we develop the most physiological minimal-invasive treatment for local bone strengthening. Under local anesthesia and fluoroscopy, our new generation of patented biomaterial, provided in a pre-filled, ready-to-use syringe, is injected into the fragile hips. The hydrogel-based material flows smoothly into zones of low bone density, while preserving bone vascularization and biomechanics. Once in place, it triggers the body to recruit its own minerals to form a scaffold that allows fragilized bone to augment and repair itself. Pilot animal studies in rats and sheep have shown a turnover of the material into viable, new bone within only a few weeks. So far, we raised close to $1 million non-dilutive money to finance our operations and initiate preclinical studies. We still need about $2 million to complete the pre-clinical phase and get FDA approval for a first-in-human study in 2024.

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