Damaged nerves are out – ReNerve is in 

Silvio Tiziani and David Rhodes_rsz
Silvio Tiziani (left), CEO of CCRM Australia and David Rhodes (right), CSO of ReNerve

Nerve (neuropathic) pain affects one in twenty Australians. For some, it’s a frustration, for others it’s nothing short of debilitating. What’s worse, nerve damage often cannot be entirely resolved with surgical intervention, with some patients experiencing worsening of their pain. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t uncommon – just ask any trauma surgeon. Repairing nerve damage is a challenging and frequently unsuccessful endeavour.

Meet Dr David Rhodes, a biochemist, who questioned this exact issue. Encountering several surgeons through conferences and networking events, the Chief Scientific Officer of ‘ReNerve’ was quick to spot the profusion of unresolved nerve injury. But he was also quick to spot an opportunity and poorly serviced market niche…

With over 18 years’ experience in biotechnology research and development, David knew he could apply his expertise and industry knowledge to build a technology to treat those suffering from unresolved nerve injuries. Combining forces with several experienced healthcare and biotechnology executives, his vision of a personalised nerve regeneration approach, ‘ReNerve’ came to fruition in 2016.

ReNerve Pty Ltd

Specialising in the development of novel products to transform the repair and regeneration of damaged nerves, ReNerve Pty Ltd has an ambitious goal. Pain is a highly competitive clinical market with multiple treatment approaches including new medical technologies and drugs in development around the world.

Despite the high prevalence of neuropathic pain, reliable, accessible and permanent treatments for nerve injury is limited. Those who live with neuropathic pain often have a significantly reduced quality of life; dealing with poorly functioning limbs (such as hands, fingers, arms or feet) and usually describing their pain as shooting, stabbing or burning. This prevents patients from working, exercising, sleeping and living well. ReNerve is out to change this.

“We established ReNerve to meet overwhelming demand,’ commented David. “Whether it’s [nerve damage as] the result of an accident, disease or tumour – advances in this field mean real improvements to a person’s quality of life.”

David has already overseen giant strides in the young company’s clinical development strategy in an impressively short period of time. Unique nerve repair material combinations have been created to address the most pressing unmet need for large nerve gap replacements with models established to study, develop and produce them. Secondly, ReNerve has developed expertise in the use of novel supercritical fluid treatments of materials to solve issues that would likely limit the development of emerging manufacturing fabrication technologies.

Making use of CCRM Australia’s facilities and partnership with CSIRO

CCRM Australia, a national initiative supporting companies in the process of commercialisation of regenerative medicine technologies, was quick to extend a helping hand, offering ReNerve the initial use of Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute’s labs, where CCRM is based.

The speed at which ReNerve was established by David and his small team is astounding and it has been exceptionally valuable having CCRM Australia provide a springboard to the young company alongside the support of CSIRO, who is a key partner and stakeholder in ReNerve. Without the assistance offered, the rapid progress and development of ReNerve’s technologies would not have been possible according to David.

David’s position as Director on ARMILAB (Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute Leadership Advisory Board) put him in the direct line-of-sight of Silvio Tiziani, CEO of CCRM Australia and Director of external strategy and planning at ARMI. The close-knit regenerative medicine and life sciences network in Victoria is a competitive advantage for emerging companies, linking skills, services, infrastructure and funding. CCRM Australia provides the critical fast-track link for Australian companies like ReNerve to access a far more extensive global support system.

This collaboration opportunity allowed both ARMI and ReNerve to complement each other’s strengths, in a synergistic, mutually-beneficial partnership. ReNerve was able to rapidly establish the platform technology through the use of state-of-the-art facilities and leverage the scientific skills of ARMI staff. In turn, ARMI researchers got an inside look at ReNerve’s commercial expertise and program of work in action, moving from discovery stage to clinical development, observing a start-up company in full flight.

Through supporting early-stage companies like ReNerve, CCRM Australia helps to accelerate local and potentially life-changing companies, supporting them at a nascent stage of development until they can stand on their own. In the case of ReNerve, David and the team are well and truly on their way.

Follow David Rhodes on LinkedIn here.