Obatala Receives Ochsner Health Funding

Obatala Sciences, Receives Investment from Healthcare Innovation Fund II

This update is based on an article by Anthony Mcauley, published yesterday on nola.com

Obatala Sciences, a NOBIC client company that helps pharmaceutical companies bring new drugs to market faster than through conventional testing, has received an investment from an Ochsner Health-related investment group aimed at turbocharging its growth.

Obatala said Thursday that it had received “a major financial investment” from the Healthcare Innovation Fund II, whose investors include Ochsner Health, Ochsner Lafayette General, Acadian Companies and the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation. The fund targets investments in firms that have proven their technology and are at a fast-growth stage, and the amount of the investment wasn’t disclosed.

Obatala’s technology offers pharmaceutical companies faster ways to move through the drug testing cycle. Instead of an often laborious, and multi-year process of progressing slowly from tests on cells, to animals, to humans, Obatala has developed a method to model fat outside of the body and use it to predict a human response. The technology, dubbed “fat-on-a-chip,” allows testing on a more diverse range of tissue, which makes the testing process speedier and cheaper.

Researchers can “mimic tissue from patients of varying demographics, including ethnicity and body type,” according to Obatala CEO Dr. Trivia Frazier. “The information coming from this research is providing more insight into how the human body responds to new therapies at an earlier stage of the drug development process…potentially saving companies billions of dollars and years of wasted effort on compounds that are tested in mice that fail in humans each year.”

Frazier, who earned a doctorate in biomedical sciences as well as an MBA from Tulane University, is one of the few Black leaders of a company in the biosciences field. She said Obatala’s technology is speeding up the development of treatments that impact Black communities disproportionately, such as obesity, diabetes and associated co-morbidities.

“Ochsner Health is committed to promoting diversity in research and to advancing the obesity and diabetes care and research,” said innovationOchsner CEO Aimee Quirk, in a statement announcing the investment.

Obatala Sciences spent its first seven years at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, or NOBIC, a start-up” incubator facility on Canal Street, before moving last year to bigger premises at the Advanced Materials Research Institute on University of New Orleans’ campus.

In an earlier interview with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dr. Frazier noted that “NOBIC helped us with the business side of things. Commercializing technology is a tremendous feat, and that’s something NOBIC can help with as well as establishing key connections.” 

Learn more about Obatala Sciences here: https://www.obatalasciences.com/our-story

BioFund Portfolio Company, BIoAesthetics, Lands University Clinical Study

BioAesthetics Announces University Clinical Study for its Nipple Reconstruction Graft

NACgraft Aims to Improve Quality-of-Life for Breast Cancer Patients


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC. (Dec. 3, 2020) —  BioAesthetics Corporation yesterday announced a clinical study of its nipple reconstruction graft will be performed at Stanford Medicine beginning in 2021. The BioAesthetics® NACgraft™ biologic matrix is a decellularized skin allograft of the human nipple-areolar complex (NAC) intended to replace the NAC when lost due to mastectomy or other procedure. BioAesthetics hopes the NACgraft will improve the quality-of-life — including improved body-image and other positive psychological impacts — of those choosing to undergo breast reconstruction, as current available nipple reconstruction options such as prostheses, tattoos, and skin flap reconstructions have often-unsatisfactory results.

The clinical study will follow, over a 12-month period, 15-patients who receive nipple reconstruction with the BioAesthetics NACgraft and previously underwent autologous breast reconstruction as part of treatment for breast cancer. The primary goal of the study is to evaluate healing time, with the secondary objectives of assessing patients’ satisfaction, well-being, self-esteem, body image, psychological well-being, nipple dimensions, and sensitivity. The study is listed on clinicaltrials.gov under “Decellularized, Whole Donor Nipple-Areola Complex Reconstruction Grafts.”

Geoffrey C. Gurtner, MD, Professor of Surgery and Inaugural Vice Chairman of Surgery for Innovation at Stanford Medicine, is the principal investigator for the study. Also participating in the clinical study are Arash Momeni, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Stanford Health Care, and Dung Nguyen, MD, Director of Breast Reconstruction at the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center and the Director of Adult Plastics Clinic at Stanford Health Care.

The NACgraft, like other decellularized human tissues, is regulated as a human cell, tissue and cellular and tissue-based product (HCT/P) under section 361 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act and 21 CFR Part 1271. Establishments engaged in manufacture of HCT/Ps are required to register with FDA, which BioAesthetics has done. BioAesthetics expects to begin offering its NACgraft to all patients, not just those enrolled in the clinical study, in 2021.

“I have been following BioAesthetics from the early days when the NACgraft was just an idea,” said Scott K. Sullivan, MD, Founding Partner of the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery and the St. Charles Surgical Hospital and a member of BioAesthetics’ Scientific Advisory Board. “Nipple reconstruction has been the limiting factor for a complete breast reconstruction. I’m excited to see this product become available to patients and look forward to offering it to mine.”

“We are excited to collaborate with Stanford for this clinical study and look forward to offering the BioAestheticsNACgraft to all patients in 2021,” said Nicholas C. Pashos, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of BioAesthetics. “I can hardly believe that what was just a late-night idea in graduate school is now ready for patients and hopefully will make a positive impact on their quality-of-life. I am proud of all of the hard work the BioAesthetics team has done and grateful for the support of our investors without whom this could not happen.”

BioAesthetics recently announced that it surpassed its Series A funding goal with participating investors and previous seed investors including its Director Sandra Coufal, MD of Sibling Capital Ventures, IndieBio/SOSV, The Launch Place, FemHealth Ventures, NO/LA Angel Network, The Pelican Fund, New Orleans BioFund, Arizona Technology Investors, New Orleans Startup Fund, Hemi VC, and numerous individual angel investors.

For more information on BioAesthetics, visit https://bio-aesthetics.com/.


About BioAesthetics:

BioAesthetics Corporation is a biotechnology company focused on transforming lives through advancements in biomaterials. Its inaugural product is a tissue-engineered nipple-areolar complex graft (NACgraft™ biologic matrix) for patients who are undergoing breast reconstruction generally following breast cancer and mastectomy; the company is currently validating its clinical manufacturing process in preparation for clinical launch of NACgraft. In addition, it has a product pipeline focused on acellular regenerative grafts for advanced wound and reconstructive care. BioAesthetics was founded as a spin-out of Tulane University in New Orleans, LA and is now located in Research Triangle Park, NC.