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Orthopedic and Dental Industry News Complete Archive »

J&J Bets on Prognostic Tests in Ortho BY ARIELLA P. GOLOMB, MD, MARCH 28, 2007

There is much developmental focus in the orthopedic industry on creating products that treat patients earlier in the continuum of care with the goal of slowing irreversible disease progression. When earlier intervention is dramatic, it is necessary to have a degree of certainty that the disease will result in severe outcomes if left untreated. To address this need, Axial Biotech, Inc., is currently developing a gene-based prognostic test for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis that should enable the pre-symptomatic differentiation between low-risk and surgery-requiring scoliosis. The scoliosis genetic test is expected to be launched late next year.

Axial Biotech, Inc. does not plan on limiting their gene testing capabilities to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The Company also plans to develop gene-based diagnostics/prognostics for other spinal disorders such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolithesis, Scheuermann's disease and osteoporosis. In addition to testing, Axial Biotech has treatment ambitions: Axial Biotech also plans to work on treatments for the diseases their tests will be able to detect. Development plans include minimally invasive surgical instrumentation and bio-mechanical devices as well as gene-based therapeutics and/or pharmaceuticals targeting spinal disorders.

Clearly, Johnson & Johnson thinks that Axial Biotech is headed in the right direction. Yesterday, Axial Biotech announced a $15.3 million series B financing lead by Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation and that Roger J. Guidi, Vice President, Venture Investments, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., will join Axial Biotech's board of directors. DePuy Spine, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, also announced yesterday that they will be collaborating with Axial Biotech to develop their prognostic scoliosis test. Prior to this board appointment, DePuy Spine already had connections to Axial Biotech - back in 2005, Mike McCaffrey, former Chariman of DePuy Spine, joined the board. DePuy is not the only big name in ortho to invest in Axial Biotech. Medtronic Sofamor Danek participated in the Series A round of financing.

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