Dr. Werner H. Hettwer, orthopedic surgeon at Rigshospitalet, made an unexpected discovery in 2014. In 2015, he took out the patent and looked for partners that might be interested in either collaborating with him to bring the discovery to the market or take over the patent. This was unfortunately unsuccessful and so it wasn’t until he came across information about the Business Acceleration Academy program in early 2018 that he reached out to BII and the Novo Nordisk Foundation for assistance to set up a team.
Today, he has co-founded the company EMBIOS with CEO Dennis Henriksen, who is a serial bio-entrepreneur with many years of experience in osteoporosis drug development. The two of them met and put together their team through BII’s and the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s network and joined the Business Acceleration Academy for the fall batch of the program.
We had a talk with Werner about his work in EMBIOS.
What did you discover?
For the past seven years at Rigshospitalet, I have been adding active pharmaceutical ingredients to mineral pastes in operations to improve bone formation and make healing more effective in patients with complex cases. Globally, there are four million cases like this every year and this number is likely to increase. The downside to adding active pharmaceutical ingredients is that the paste becomes more unstable. By coincidence, I discovered that adding a specific antibiotic to this composition reverses this effect and makes it more stable again. That was in late 2014 and I knew this was worth pursuing but unfortunately, I lacked the necessary industry connections.
Where are you now?
We now have a team that will help develop the company, and I have highly promising results achieved in a clinical series of over 30 patients who were treated with the off-label combination of well-established and approved ingredients at Rigshospitalet. This forms the basis for our company’s lead product EMB1 – a bioactive mineral paste including a bone-forming agent and a specific antibiotic. We will focus on accelerating the formulation and clinical development of this product so that it can be ready for regulatory approval and reach the market to benefit patients in approximately 3-4 years already.
What have you learned at the BAA program?
That there is a little more to business development than I thought. It is an eye-opener that the development of something medically as simple and straight forward as this can be so complex and expensive from a regulatory point of view. The next step for us is to secure funding, so we are currently spending more time writing grant applications than anything else. We look forward to moving beyond that and focus on activities that will get the product to the market so it can make an impact.
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