Avita Medical, a British company in the process of moving to the L.A. area, believes it has the next big thing in regenerative skin care: genetically personalized spray that can more completely heal many burns and fade scars than conventional therapies.
Its executives and employees aren’t the only believers. Last month, Avita, which has U.S. offices in Northridge and contract manufacturing facilities in Ventura, raised nearly $12 million from Australian and international institutions. The company also recently received two Department of Defense transitional technology grants of $1.85 million each that will help finance U.S. regulatory approval for its ReCell Spray-On Skin product.
The ReCell bedside kit enables a doctor or other caregiver to take a tiny skin sample from the patient containing the cells necessary to generate new skin. The sample is mixed in a proprietary solution that is sprayed on the patient’s skin.
ReCell, which is in the middle of late-stage U.S. clinical trials, is marketed in Europe, China, Australia and six countries in the Middle East, primarily to treat burns, scarring and ulcers. But the company’s American-born chief executive, Dr. William Dolphin, said the product shows promise for everything from wrinkle reduction to repairing receding gums.
“ReCell is a technology platform that has significant potential for reconstruction and aesthetic uses,” Dolphin said. “It’s one reason we want to be in Los Angeles – because of the huge cosmetic surgery industry here – and in California in general because of the state’s significant support for stem cell research.”
Dolphin joined the company in 2008, and came to Los Angeles in December to prepare moving the headquarters and the company’s Australian research and development facility here, although the company still plans to keep regional facilities at its current base in Cambridge, England, and the Australian city of Subiaco near Perth, where the technology was first developed.
Donna Gates is another entrepreneur in the process of moving her health company, Body Ecology. She is bringing most Body Ecology operations from her hometown in rural Georgia to Los Angeles.
“I really excited about being here because L.A. is a very sophisticated market – things spring from here to the rest of the country,” said Gates, whose 1996 book, “Body Ecology Diet,” helped popularize the use of probiotics, coconut oil and fermented foods to treat severe digestive ailments.
Because many of the supplements she recommends were not readily available when the book first came out, Gates said she soon found herself in the product business, obtaining organic coconut oil and the plant-based sweetener stevia from around the world. Her Body Ecology fermented probiotic-rich coconut water is made by an Australian company that hopes to soon establish a U.S. facility here.
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