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Bio-Electric Regeneration Company Adds $8M in Seed Funds

African clawed frog

African clawed frog (DataBase Center for Life Science, Wikimedia Commons.

16 Feb. 2023. A start-up enterprise, spun-off from Tufts University labs, creating bio-electrical treatments for regenerating limbs and tissue, is raising $8 million in new seed funds. Morphoceuticals Inc. is a biotechnology company in Boston advancing work at Tufts on so-called electroceuticals, therapies that harness bio-electric signaling for regenerative medicine.

Morphoceuticals is commercializing research by its scientific founders Michael Levin, director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts, and David Kaplan, professor of biomedical engineering. The Allen Discovery Center studies biological mechanisms, including signaling processes, for building and repairing complex anatomies. The Discovery Center’s labs focus on the role of bio-electric signaling for processing information, and build computational tools fur understanding the body’s physiological software for therapeutics, including regenerating tissue and organs. Kaplan’s lab investigates biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Kaplan and colleagues study engineered biopolymers from natural fibrous proteins, particularly silk-like materials for tissue engineering.

As reported by Science & Enterprise in Jan. 2022, a team led by Levin and Kaplan demonstrated in the journal Science Advances a drug delivery device for regrowing tissue on amputated limbs in African clawed frogs, a species that loses its ability to regrow new tissue. The device is a bioreactor called a biodome worn like a sleeve on the amputated site. The biodome is made from a silk hydrogel that releases regenerative compounds over time, in this case five small-molecule growth factor proteins and compounds to control inflammation and other adverse reactions.

Harness bio-electric signaling programs

The frogs wore the biodome over their amputation sites for 24 hours, then the researchers tracked the frogs for 18 months. The researchers reported the treated frogs regrew bones and muscle, repaired nerves, and developed new blood vessels on the amputation sites. The team says the frogs also restored motor nerves and sensation in the regrown limbs. In addition, the treated frogs began regrowing digits and showed improved movement abilities.

Morphoceuticals was founded in 2020 by Juvenescence Ltd., a company in the U.K. that creates and funds new enterprises developing processes and technologies for extending the human lifespan. The Morphoceuticals technology seeks to regenerate limb and tissue by harnessing natural bio-electric signals that follow dormant patterns established in the human genetic code. The company also plans to develop electroceuticals that adapt bio-electric patterns for restoring organ functions, including the brain. Morphoceuticals says it uses big-data analytics to identify chemical compounds for stimulating bio-electric signals in ion channels, signaling passageways in cells enabled by receptor proteins.

“The bio-electric approaches we are pursuing,” says Levin in a company statement released through Cision, “kickstart complex morphological subroutines that would otherwise be too complex to micromanage at the molecular level.” Levin adds, “By controlling bio-electric signaling, we are seeking to eventually generate functional tissues, limbs, and organs in humans, which could greatly improve the quality of life for patients.”

Morphoceuticals Inc. is raising $8 million in new seed funds, beyond the initial Juvenescence stake, from science start-up investor Prime Movers Lab in Jackson, Wyoming and Juvenescence. “The funding will enable us to now push forward on several fronts,” notes Morphoceuticals’ CEO Michael Hufford, “including testing new electroceutical combinations for limb regeneration and amputation stump health that we can take into the clinic, as well as the development of tools that will map the bio-electric atlas of living tissues, which will be a discovery and development engine for our future therapeutics.”

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