SpineThera Raises $2M as it Readies for Clinical Trials
A Plymouth company developing an injectable drug aimed at treating lower back pain has received more than $2 million from investors, pushing it near the halfway mark of a $5 million funding round it kicked off this month.
SpineThera Inc. so far has attracted fourteen backers in its current round, each investing $25,000 or more, according to a regulatory filing published Tuesday.
SpineThera CEO Jeffrey Missling told TCB he hopes the round wraps up soon as the company is currently preparing for clinical tests of its flagship drug.
“We’re essentially through the experimental phase and on the doorstep of clinical trials,” Missling said. “The objective of the clinical trial will be to demonstrate that [our drug] translates to longer term pain relief from a single injection.”
In the world today, there is no epidural steroid injection on the market designed and approved specifically for relieving lower back pain. Rather, medical professionals have long been turning to off-label use, or the use of drugs not explicitly marketed for treating lower back pain.
With roughly one in three Americans suffering from some form of regular back pain each year, the market potential of SpineThera’s drug is enormous. Health care spending in the U.S. on low back and neck pain ranked as the third highest amount of spending in 2013, totaling $87.6 billion, according to a report by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“We view ourselves as being much more differentiated in the field of back pain than other companies in their area of care,” Missling said of potential competitors, many of which make similar drugs targeting other areas of the body. Current drugs, he added, aren’t expected to last as long as the 60 to 90 days of relief SpineThera’s drug is aiming to provide.
Missling founded SpineThera in 2012. The inspiration to start the company, he said, came from his wife, a physical therapist at a Minnesota hospital that exclusively works with patients dealing with neck and back pain. Missling, who earlier in his career was at a local biotech company developing a sustained release implant to relief eye pain, was discussing the project with his wife when she expressed interest in a drug with the potential to provide longer-lasting relief for back pain patients.
The eureka moment spawned SpineThera and, years later, it has grown to attract $11 million in financial support (counting the company’s most recent round).
Among the company’s backers is the U.S. Army, which, last March, provided SpineThera with a $2 million grant. According to the military organization, between 21 and 27 percent of its deployed personnel experience back pain, making it the most common condition reported by Army members.
Missling told TCB that SpineThera’s ultimate goal is to make its drug available worldwide. The company currently employs four full-time workers at its Plymouth headquarters, “and a small army of consultants,” Missling said.