Newly established Lotus Tissue Repair announced the completion of a $26 million Series A round of financing led by Third Rock Ventures, and separately reported signing an exclusive licensing deal with the University of Southern California (USC) for the latter’s recombinant collagen Type VII (rC7) patent portfolio, which forms the basis of Lotus’ product pipeline. USC’s co-inventors of the rC7 technology, Mei Chen, Ph.D., and David Woodley, Ph.D., are co-founders of Lotus and scientific advisors to the firm.
Lotus Tissue Repair is developing rC7 for the potential treatment of dermatologic conditions in which replacement of the collagen may help accelerate chronic wound healing, such as diabetic foot ulcers or venous stasis ulcers. The company’s lead program is centered on development of a protein replacement therapy for the treatment of the orphan disease dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB), a group of genetic skin diseases characterized by skin fragility, separation of the epidermis from the dermis (resulting in blister formation), milia, and scarring. All forms of DEB are caused by mutations in COL7A1, the gene encoding for type VII collagen, but there are currently no treatment options for the condition other than palliative care, Lotus notes.
Drs. Chen and Woodley have developed the technology for expressing rC7 in HEK 293 and a specific fibroblast cell line, and the protein is currently being manufactured in the fibroblast cell line for an NIH-sponsored clinical trial in DEB at USC.