LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 28, 2011) — Equinext LLC, a new biotech spinoff company, and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute have formed a partnership to bring a medical device to the equine market to treat tendon and ligament injuries and Wobbler's Syndrome in horses and other animals. Equinext will use its chemically-made injectable reagent device on these lower leg strains and sprains, which are very common in all types of performance horses and have a high rate of reoccurrence. Clinical trials are expected to begin in the next year.
The Equinext technology, called NEXT™ or Nonsurgical EXogenous crosslink Therapy, provides almost immediate benefits to the horse. It is injected directly into the lesion of the injured tendon or ligament and interacts with the native proteins (collagen) causing the tissue to strengthen and mechanically stabilize so the natural healing process begins. The therapeutic effect is reached within 30 to 60 minutes of application and dramatically reduces recovery time for the horse; some tendon and ligament injuries can take up to a year or more to heal.
Equinext President Eric Hauck brought the NEXT technology to Lexington a year ago when he moved the parent company Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine from Austin, Texas to the University of Kentucky Coldstream Research Campus. Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine will be conducting human clinical trials using the technology as a treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease and related lower back pain.
"We realized shortly after we came to Lexington that our device originally designed to treat low back pain and knee meniscus tears in humans was an obvious cross-over technology for the equine industry," said Hauck. "Lexington is one of the few places in the world for this to happen."
NEXT was developed from the research of Tom Hedman, chief scientific officer for Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine. Hedman, an MIT-trained and NIH-funded professor, moved from Texas A&M University to the University of Kentucky with a joint appointment in neurosurgery and biomedical engineering.
Hedman and veterinarians Kim Sprayberry and Duncan Peters from the Lexington-based Haygard Equine Medical Institute will conduct the Equinext clinical trials. They expect to complete the trials by the third quarter of 2013.
Equine injuries to the tendons and ligaments can affect up to 30 percent of competitive horses with higher rates of occurrence in working horses (horses used for driving, guiding, packing, search and rescue, and police work). NEXT will also be used to treat Wobbler's Syndrome, which causes significant horse loss for the racing industry.
"We are excited to partner with Equinext to bring such an amazing technology to the animal care industry," said Andy Clark, DVM and Haygard Equine Medical Institute CEO. "Our vision is that the NEXT device will revolutionize how we treat these injuries not only in competitive horses, but in pleasure horses and comfort animals as well."
Hauck said, "Our new spinoff company and strategic alliance with Haygard, who have the best equine veterinarians in the business, is the culmination of work by so many people in Lexington."
Parent company Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine was the client of the Lexington city government-Commerce Lexington-University of Kentucky economic development partnership. Hauck also worked with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development that oversees the Kentucky SBIR-STTR Matching Funds Program, which according to Hauck, was the initial impetus for relocating the biotech company and Hedman's research group from Texas to Lexington.
"The Equinext-Orthopeutics story is a great economic development success for our state and for the Lexington-Bluegrass Region," said Len Heller, UK vice president for commercialization and economic development. "As a result of the work of all of the partners, we now have a brilliant new researcher at UK, a new technology-based company at Coldstream that has already created a spinoff, and new high-paying jobs."
Equinext is currently sharing lab space and staff with Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine at Coldstream. Plans call for a separate Coldstream lab and hiring four new staff. Hauck is working with Kentucky's largest sterile pharmaceutical manufacturer, Coldstream Laboratories Inc., to produce the device for the clinical trials. Coldstream Laboratories is also located at the UK research campus.
"It is very exciting to see a technology like this which has multiple applications," said Warren Nash, director of the Lexington Innovation & Commercialization Center and part of the UK commercialization and economic development office, who is working on Equinext. "There is no question that it will have a huge impact on the Lexington-Bluegrass Region's multi-million dollar horse industry."
ABOUT ORTHOPEUTICS-INTRALINK SPINE
Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine Inc., the parent company to Equinext, relocated from Texas to the University of Kentucky Coldstream Research Campus last year along with CSO Tom Hedman and CEO Eric Hauck. Read more about Tom Hedman's research. For more information on Orthopeutics-Intralink Spine or Equinext, contact Eric Hauck 512.818.8469.
The University of Kentucky Office for Commercialization & Economic Development creates jobs and grows Kentucky’s economy through the commercialization of research and innovations, R&D industry partnerships, and business development of university spinoffs, startups and Kentucky small businesses. UKCED manages the intellectual property portfolio and assesses, patents and licenses technology. UKCED includes the ASTeCC campus incubator, Coldstream Research Campus, Kentucky Small Business Development Center, Kentucky Technology Inc., Lexington ICC and the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship.