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Spine Wave, MB Innovations form Partnership

Spine Wave Inc. and MB Innovations are joining forces to develop orthopedic devices.

Under the partnership, MB Innovations (MBI) will invest in Spine Wave and initially will develop products exclusively for the Shelton, Conn.-based spinal device firm. At the same time, MBI will expand its own infrastructure in an effort to develop a medical device clientele.

MBI has created an engineering/advisory team exclusively for the Spine Wave product development partnership. The team is being led by MBI President Troy Drewry, who began his career in product development at Medtronic Sofamor Danek and most recently worked as vice president of U.S. Operations for Paradigm Spine, a New York, N.Y.-based provider of both non-fusion and fusion spinal implants. Mike Sherman, a partner at life sciences private equity firm MB Venture Partners LLC in Memphis, Tenn., is serving as MBI’s executive chairman. Sherman’s career spans more than 20 years at Snythes (soon to become part of the Johnson & Johnson conglomerate), Smith & Nephew plc and Medtronic Sofamor Danek, where he produced more than 90 patents.

“We are excited to connect Spine Wave’s engineering team with the team at MBI,” Spine Wave Chief Technology Officer John Pafford said in a news release. “Mike, Troy and I worked together for several years while at Sofamor Danek and I have the utmost respect for their capabilities. We have already identified the initial product opportunities which will leverage Spine Wave’s intellectual property portfolio. I am confident that MBI will accelerate the pace at which we execute on our mission of delivering differentiated technologies to the spine surgeon community.”

This year, Spine Wave intends to launch a cervical product family and add offerings within its percutaneous fixation systems. Among the devices Spine Wave produces is the StaXx XDL Expandable Device, a PEEK (polyetheretherketone) spacer, intended for spinal fusion through lateral surgery. The device won marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August 2011. Another device is the NuCore Injectable Nucleus Device, an alternative treatment for degenerative disc disease than surgery, which is an injectable synthetic polymer intended to resemble a natural nucleus. The NuCore device, now in a second generation version, entered into a clinical study in Europe last fall.

 The company raised $17.5 million last winter in a funding round led by return backer New Enterprise Associates, with additional support from Morgenthaler Ventures, Compass Global Fund, New Leaf Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, Foundation Medical Partners and Memphis Implant Partners. At the time, Spine Wave planned to use the funding to assist in bringing its NuCore Injectable Nucleus to clinical trials.

“We are very excited to enter into this arrangement,” Sherman said. “MBI’s goal is to rapidly develop the next generation of spine products for Spine Wave as we build MBI into a significant entity capable of supporting multiple clients. The abundance of engineering talent in this area makes Memphis the ideal location for this type of company. Spine Wave is the ideal partner because they are committed to innovation and they are rapidly assembling the distribution network necessary to achieve commercial success.”

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