Venture Lab startup hits milestone in quest to treat musculoskeletal disorders

Clinical trials begin for Amplicore’s injectable therapeutic

C. James Lin, PhD, the Mary S. and Joseph S. Stern Jr. Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, is on a mission to reduce the pain and loss of mobility associated with musculoskeletal disorders.

Applying his background in civil engineering to the architecture of the human body, Lin is seeking new treatments for joint osteoarthritis, cartilage damage and degenerative disc disease.

With the help of the University of Cincinnati’s Venture Lab, Lin created a company, Amplicore, to commercialize his therapeutics. Since its founding, the startup has raised $6 million, including a $2 million translational award from the Department of Defense and $4 million Series Seed funds from venture capitalists, in support — some of the most raised by any Venture Lab company to date. 

Now, this summer, the company hit another milestone in its quest to bring its innovations into the marketplace — the launch of a clinical trial for AM3101, an injectable therapeutic that can be used in meniscus tear surgeries. If the Phase 1/2 trial goes well and Amplicore can raise enough support through its current Series A fundraising round, the company will then proceed to a larger Phase 3 trial. 

A unique and beneficial environment

Lin said the innovative environment at UC and the assistance of the Venture Lab have been instrumental in developing his company.

“I think UC has been doing a great job,” he said. “Being an urban university, we get a lot of major industry players in the area. I think that climate is unique and very beneficial.”

Why startup support matters

Major public research universities such as UC are committed to making positive societal impact by helping faculty members bring innovations from the lab to the marketplace.

That’s the premise behind the UC Venture Lab, which launched five years ago in the 1819 Innovation Hub to serve an unmet need in the local startup ecosystem: supporting innovators with early-stage ideas. In the eight-week pre-accelerator program, participants define the problem their product or service can solve, identify potential customers and examine space in the marketplace for their ideas. 

Teams with the most significant startup potential are then eligible to apply for funding from UC and the state of Ohio.

Since the program’s launch five years ago, startups at UC have increased from one to three annually to an average of 14 per year, generating tens of millions of dollars in grant funding, third-party investment and revenue. 

‘A major hurdle toward success’

Amplicore’s injectable therapeutics hold promise for new ways to treat wear and tear on joints that rely less on addictive painkillers and surgeries with high failure rates. With the announcement of the clinical trial for AM3101, company leaders are hopeful that their innovations may one day go to the patients who need them. 

“By advancing to the Phase 1/2 trial, Amplicore already has cleared a major hurdle toward success,” said Tyler Vandivort, PhD, director of regulatory affairs and operations at Amplicore. “Only roughly one in 10,000 drugs make it from early development to [Food and Drug Administration] approval. But once a drug makes it to clinical trials, the approval rate improves to around one in 10. Your odds of being successful go up immensely when you cross that clinical threshold.”

Featured image at top: James C. Y. Lin. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

Connect with the UC Venture Lab

The UC Venture Lab assists entrepreneurs from idea conception to startup launch, connecting students, faculty, staff and the community to knowledge, talent and resources to create scalable startups. The team includes UC staff, entrepreneurs-in-residence, mentors and technical experts. 

Do you have an idea for a scalable startup? Apply to our pre-accelerator program. Would you like to impart your entrepreneurial wisdom to promising teams? Learn more about our entrepreneurs-in-residence program. 

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