CytoSolv Inc., a biotech startup in Providence, received $500,000 in seed-stage funding from the Slater Technology Fund, a Rhode Island capital fund committed to supporting technology-based businesses. CytoSolv is in the process of testing an acellular treatment for healing diabetic ulcers. The product aims to improve the appearance and potential functionality of skin that would otherwise be critically scarred.
CytoSolv's product regenerates skin and results in hair regrowth. "Regeneration of the multiple layers and skin cell types means that the tissue would have all its normal functions, including feeling and sweating," said Christopher Thanos '97 PhD'01, one of the company's founders. In addition to diabetic ulcer wounds, the product could eventually be used to treat injuries from burns, cardiovascular disease and bone degeneration, Thanos said.
The company, founded in October by Thanos and Associate Professor for Research of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology Moses Goddard, uses the choroid plexuses from a herd of pigs that live on an island off the southern coast of New Zealand for its product.
The choroid plexuses of the pigs — which were left on the island by sailors centuries ago and discovered in the 1980s — secrete the proteins that CytoSolv uses to produce the treatment. While Living Cell Technologies, for which Thanos used to serve as the director of research and development, has exclusive rights to the herd, it has agreed to let CytoSolv use the pigs' organs in exchange for part of the anticipated product's profits.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has fewer regulations for acellular products, Thanos said. Because CytoSolv's product does not actually contain any of the pigs' cells, the process of receiving approval for the drug's clinical use will be easier, according to Thanos.