Madison start-up testing tissue clusters for hormone treatments in pets, people

Madison start-up testing tissue clusters for hormone treatments in pets, people

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Stem cell research

A researcher prepares cell samples for analysis at Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, a stem cell company in Madison. 

A Fitchburg company based on research by a UW-Madison gerontologist has created three-dimensional tissue clusters derived from stem cells that can produce ovarian and testicular hormones.

The development could help regenerate and replace hormone-producing tissues and reverse the natural decline of sex hormones from aging, the company, JangoBio, said in a statement this week.

The company is testing the tissue clusters, known as organoids, in rats and dogs, said Bill Kohl, chief operations officer.

If the treatments are approved for commercialization, they will be offered for companion animals — such as cats, dogs and horses — at veterinary clinics in an effort to increase lifespans, Kohl said.

Human clinical trials could begin by next year, he said. Though the organoids would be created from people’s own cells, they would be modified in the lab, a process that requires approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

If proven safe and effective in people, the hormones could help prevent menopause and male andropause, tied to unusually low testosterone levels, the company said.

Located on Yarmouth Greenway Drive in Fitchburg, JangoBio was started in 2014 and has 12 employees. It also has a facility at University Research Park on Madison’s West Side.

JangoBio is based on research by Craig Atwood, an associate professor of medicine at UW-Madison. He is the company’s CEO.

The company recently completed a $2 million seed round of financing and said it is positioning itself for another funding round and commercial revenue streams.

JangoBio is one of at least 10 stem cell companies in the Madison area, most launched by UW-Madison researchers. Among them is Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics Inc., started by stem cell pioneer James Thomson.

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