Black bear blood sounds like a bizarre source for a bone growth enhancer. However, Aursos, Inc. a Michigan-based company, is counting on a biomarker in the blood of black bears, a factor that prevents them from losing bone mass during hibernation, to provide one of the critical ingredients in its product for site-specific use in spinal fusions, bone filling and bone defect applications. Aursos officials are hoping to begin human studies in 2014.
The bear blood-derived product is called AUR-84 and is manufactured in the form of a re-absorbable implant to be used for lumbar interbody fusion procedures, according to Deanna Pagoreic, writing about the firm in Medcity News.
Aursos’ President and CEO Kris Aalto said that the firm identified its target market of spinal fusion surgeries when the controversy surrounding the safety of Medtronic’s Infuse led to decreasing sales of that bone-growth product. She claims that Aursos’ peptide has a better safety profile (than Infuse) and is more targeted. “We have a much more specific effect on the cells we want to stimulate, and we will be physically localizing our agent in a very precise way to prevent our active agent from migrating to [an] unwanted site,” she said.
The Medtech Insight market report projects the market for bone-growth stimulation products, in the U.S. alone, to grow 6.4% annually to an estimated $775 million in 2015. The Aursos product is based on technology licensed from Michigan Technological University.