A Model Member of the Innovation Quarter Community
To keep moving forward, KeraNetics LLC has moved into a new home in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
KeraNetics, an advanced biomaterials company focused on researching, creating and commercializing keratin-based products for therapeutic and regenerative medical applications, now occupies approximately 9,000 square feet of laboratory, manufacturing and office space at 200 E. First St. That’s more than twice the space it had in the nearby Richard H. Dean Biomedical Research Building.
“We feel very lucky to have this space become available to us,” Kim Westmoreland, KeraNetics’ CEO, said at the December 8 event that marked the official opening of the company’s new home. “The space perfectly fits our needs for the next decade with not a lot of additional expense. It is the right place at the right time.”
The move to First Street allows KeraNetics to improve and expand its manufacturing capabilities, a vital step for the company as it prepares to begin human clinical trials, pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
Producing substances for use in human clinical trials requires a “higher standard of cleanliness,” Westmoreland said, and the company’s new site offers the ventilation, hygiene and process-control features necessary for medical manufacturing.
KeraNetics has two main product lines, both based on the keratin proteins present in human hair, nails and skin that are notable for their toughness and durability. The KeraStat product line is centered on wound care and management while the KeraGenetics line is devoted to bone, nerve and muscle regeneration.
If the two clinical trial applications currently under review are given the green light and their results merit FDA approval, Westmoreland said, KeraNetics products could be available to consumers by late 2016.
“When these products get to market, we believe they will make a big impact,” he said.
KeraNetics’ upgrading of its new space at 200 E. First St. was supported by a $250,000 small business research loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
KeraNetics, which was spun out of research at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, currently has 23 employees, including eight with doctorates and three with M.B.A. degrees.
Since it was established in 2008, KeraNetics has raised approximately $13 million in private-equity funding and received more than $15 million in grants from various government sources. Recently, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the company $1.5 million for research and development related to injectable bone-regeneration products and $1 million for research and development of three-dimensional printed dressing to treat severe facial thermal burn injuries.
“We are really proud to be partnering with the U.S. government in developing these products to help soldiers who receive horrific injuries,” Westmoreland said.
KeraNetics has an exclusive licensing agreement with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for nine issued and four pending U.S. patents covering production methods and uses for six fields of keratin biomaterials. The company also has five internally developed pending patent applications to support products in development.
“KeraNetics has been a model member of the Innovation Quarter community,” said Eric Tomlinson, president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. “We are delighted to be able to accommodate the company’s growth within the Innovation Quarter and we’re confident that its new home will be the site of continued growth and success in bringing important products to the market for the benefit of patients.”