Lotus Tissue Repair, Inc.
USC Professors Drs. David Woodley and Mei Chen from the Keck School of Medicine of USC helped form Lotus Tissue Repair, Inc. in order to commercialize their research finding that a specialized protein in connective tissue – human, recombinant type VII collagen (C7) – can be administered to treat a devastating genetic disease called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (DEB). Young patients with DEB are often referred to as “butterfly children” because their skin is as frail as a butterfly’s wings. Those with the disease suffer from blistered skin and widespread skin wounds until about the age of 25 to 30, when they develop an aggressive squamous cell carcinoma in one of their wounds that usually metastasizes and takes their life.
Drs. Woodley and Chen partnered with the USC Stevens Center for Innovation to seek companies interested in licensing various aspects of the C7 work. USC Stevens helped connect the USC researchers to external entrepreneurs best suited to develop and commercialize a protein replacement therapy. Drs. Woodley and Chen partnered with them to form Lotus Tissue Repair. Lotus went on to secure a total of $26 million in milestone-driven funding from Third Rock Ventures and was acquired by Shire Plc, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in developing protein replacement therapies for several orphan diseases. Shire purchased Lotus Tissue Repair in 2013 for approximately $50 million, with added potential success milestones totaling an additional $275 million.
Recombinant C7 has the potential to be a first-in-class systemic therapy for the treatment of Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa. Shire is continuing to perform research studies on Lotus Tissue Repair’s therapy toward initial human trials. Drs. Woodley and Chen continue to be consultants for Shire on this project to one day translate their research into a therapy for this devastating disease.