Leading the Revolution of Healing and Fusing Soft Tissues Using Nano-fibers

What happens when two scientists meet up with surgeons, who share with them their great challenges pertaining to the patient healing process? They gather and leverage their scientific knowledge to develop a revolutionary technology to heal and seal soft tissue injuries. This is how Nurami Medical, a startup funded by standout biotech investors, was established

Galya Hipsh, in conjunction with Nurami Medical
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Leading the Revolution of Healing and Fusing Soft Tissues Using Nano-fibersCredit: Michal Deri
Galya Hipsh, in conjunction with Nurami Medical
Promoted Content

The story of Israeli medtech startup Nurami Medical’s establishment is a true embodiment of the importance of collaborations between the industrial and science worlds. At the start of the previous decade, two young scientists met while participating in a joint academia-industry project, on behalf of a pharmaceutical company that was searching for a solution for a particular problem. The two scientists, Nora Nseir Manassa, an expert in tissue engineering who holds a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Technion, and Dr. Amir Bahar, a PhD in biology with a specialization in neuroscience from the Weizmann Institute.

Dr. Bahar had returned from a post doc at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, right before meeting and working with Nseir Manassa on the joint project. The project required them to connect with surgeons who presented problems experienced in the field, in order to develop solutions. During their conversation, they also raised other professional causes for concern that were not necessarily related to the project, but were highly significant, in terms of their medical ramifications on patients.

Nora Nseir ManassaCredit: Michal Deri

When the project came to an end, Nseir Manassa and Dr. Bahar understood that they could join forces and leverage their combined academic knowledge in tissue engineering and neuroscience to develop solutions for those significant issues raised by the doctors. In 2014, they established Nurami Medical (the company name is a combination of both scientists’ first names), and hit the ground running. Their goal was to develop innovative technologies to repair and fuse damaged soft tissue within internal organs, following surgical procedures or trauma. Nseir Manassa is currently the company’s chief technology officer, and Dr. Bahar is the company’s chief operations officer and clinical lead. Initially, the company operated under the NGT accelerator in Nazareth. Once Nurami Medical developed and raised funds, it moved to its current offices in Haifa.

Hannoch Marksheid is the company’s CEO. He’s a serial entrepreneur and a finance and business expert, who joined the company at a later stage. Biotech investor Doron Birger, the company’s active chairman of the board, previously held the same position at a company that Marksheid founded and managed. Marksheid was already dreaming of his impending retirement, and of investing all of his time and energy into his favorite hobby, Ping-Pong, when Birger managed to convince him to meet with the two young entrepreneurs. It wasn’t long before Marksheid was happily on board.

Nurami's management in a strategic discussionCredit: Michal Deri

“That’s how I found myself, a grandfather to five grandchildren, managing a new startup,” Marksheid recounts with a smile. It was important to Birger that the scientists and new entrepreneurs be supported by a veteran in the field of management, business development, and dealings with strategic partners, venture capital funds, and investors. Marksheid assumed the role in 2018, after the company had already raised two million dollars in initial investments. He led the company through its next funding round, held just one year ago; the company raised 5.5 million dollars from Alameda Ventures (headed by Dr. Irit Yaniv) and investors Maury Arkin, Naska Medical (SK Group member), Proceed Fund, Glenrock (a private equity investment company), and other American investors.

Preventing life-threatening internal leaks

Internal organs require fusion or healing after undergoing two types of events: trauma as a result of injury or wounding, or planned surgery intended to repair a medical issue. “Existing solutions to repair and heal internal organs are based on the integration of two products,” Marksheid explains. “The first – an internal bandage made from animal collagen that serves as an implant/support system to repair the injury. But this solution does not prevent blood, air, or other biological materials from leaking into the organ. The second product is a liquid that is spread onto the internal bandage after it is sewn onto the soft tissue wound. It is meant to prevent leaks from entering the organ via holes in the sutures, or the bandage itself.

Dr. Amir BaharCredit: Michal Deri

“However, this is where the problem surfaces. In approximately 30% of the cases in which this bandage is used and sealing attempts are made, leaks still occur. These leaks can be life-threatening, can cause new health problems, and can even require additional surgeries. This is precisely the problem that the surgeons presented to Dr. Bahar and Nseir Manassa, way back when.

“Nurami developed a technology based on medical co-polymers that enable the creation of a single implant made from strong and flexible nano-fibers that performs both actions – healing and sealing. Between the implant’s fibers, there are many spaces that promoting healing and tissue regrowth. The implant contains and additional substance that is activated and transformed into a viscoelastic material by the body’s temperature to provide complete sealing, so that the sealing is a built-in part of the implant,” Nora Nseir Manassa explains.

Hannoch MarksheidCredit: Michal Deri

The internal organ repairs market is worth many billions of dollars around the world. This is also a field that hasn’t seen many innovations in recent decades, according to Marksheid. “Nurami introduces a new concept that brings with it clinical and financial advantages for the patient, the surgeon, and the healthcare system. The product is cheaper than those products that are already on the market, reducing the direct costs, as well as indirect costs related to return hospitalizations and surgeries to repair leaks and their associated damage.”

The implants that will heal the meninges and pancreas

Based on the company’s breakthrough technology, three innovative products were developed, each of which is intended for use in different medical situations. The first, ArtiFascia, is the company’s flagship product. This is a synthetic implant that protects the brain after surgery, by healing the meninges and encouraging the original tissue to rejuvenate. It also prevents cervical spinal fluid from leaking. “In neurosurgery, the greatest risk is leakage from the meninges that are cut to remove tumors from the brain,” Marksheid explains. “Cervical spinal fluid leaks can be life-threatening, and so we developed a specific implant for neurosurgery applications. At this stage, we have completed a clinical trial on 90 patients, and following the six-month follow-up period, we will file the paperwork that is required to receive regulatory approval from the FDA and CE. We believe that we will receive these approvals by the end of 2022. Then, we will be able to start marketing the implant around the world.”

Nurami ​​Medical in a Day TeamCredit: Michal Deri

The second product that the company developed is called ArtiFix. It is an upgraded version of the first product, detailed above, only this one does not need to be sewn in; it can be implanted using a layer of special bio-compatible glue based on synthetic polymers, which the company also developed. This product enables three functions: healing, sealing, and affixation to the injured area, without the need for sutures. “This product can be used, not only in brain surgeries, but in back surgeries as well,” Nora Nseir Manassa explains. Presently, ArtiFix is in the pre-clinical animal-testing stage. It is expected that initial human trials will be launched at the end of 2022.

The third product is called NovaFibreX. It is intended for use in complete or partial pancreas removal surgeries, in cancer patients. “After these kids of operations, there’s a 3 percent chance of mortality, due to the leakage of pancreatic juices into the digestive system, destroying it entirely,” Nora Nseir Manassa explains. “There currently is no dedicated solution to repair this severe problem. Usually, a shunt is implanted to drain the pancreatic juices. The product we developed to resolve this issue is not an implant; it’s a liquid gel that the doctor can spray on the wound created upon removing the pancreas. The gel prevents the juices from leaking. We are currently developing this product in collaboration with the Technion, together with Prof. Boaz Mizrahi’s laboratory, in the Biotechnology and Food Department, as part of the Israeli Innovation Authority’s Magneton program. The product is currently being tested in a laboratory setting. We hope to start animal trials at the end of 2022.”

A highly-impressive list of investors have invested in the company. What’s the company’s secret to innovation?

Dr. Bahar explains, “Throughout every stage of our company’s growth, we have succeeded in connecting our deep scientific knowledge to the prevalent needs of our potential customers – doctors. Without this connection, and without understanding their specific needs, we would never have been able to develop these innovative products. We do not develop products for academia, but rather seek to create safe-to-use products that meet safety standards. Today, we need to connect our product to the manufacturing and marketing worlds. We are happy to be our product’s A to Z manufacturers, which makes the entire process that much easier. We have a clean production room, trained technicians, and significant production capabilities. These are our strengths.”

What’s is the company’s vision for the future?
“To lead the world of internal organ repairs following surgery and injury, and to supply solutions that enable rapid, safe, and complete patient healing,” Marksheid concludes.

In collaboration with Nurami Medical