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February 19, 2008

Sonoma Ortho Hires CEO Ahead Of Product Launch

Santa Rosa, CA (VentureWire Lifescience) - (Feb 19, 2008) – Sonoma Orthopedic Products Inc. has hired a chief executive ahead of plans to launch a new device to treat bone fractures.

Glen Coleman, an orthopedics-industry veteran and former head of U.S. sales and marketing for Wright Medical Group Inc., joined the Santa Rosa, Calif., company in October. The company, which has raised $13 million through two rounds from MedVenture Associates, Asset Management Co., EDF Ventures and others, soon expects to receive 510(k) clearance for an implantable device that helps distal-radius fractures of the wrist to heal.

The company's founder and chief technology officer, Charles Nelson, has developed a minimally invasive treatment in which a flexible implant is inserted into the hollow space inside bone to help fractures heal. Once inside, the implant becomes rigid. It can be removed if needed, Coleman said.

Today, physicians implant bone plates or use casts. Both approaches have limitations, Coleman said. The Sonoma treatment, called Ensplint, will be delivered through a small incision. Implanting it takes 30 minutes or less, compared to at least an hour for a bone-plate procedure. Following the procedure, a wrist-fracture patient would wear a splint for about a week, and then begin physical therapy.

Casts require the wrist to be immobilized for six to eight weeks. About 21% of patients placed in casts never regain the full amount of strength and mobility they had before the injury, he said. Wrist fractures are common because wrists bear the brunt of the weight when someone puts a hand out to break a fall. About 300,000 distal-radius fractures are treated in the U.S. each year, Coleman said.

Since casts and bone plates are entrenched competitors, Sonoma plans a small, focused rollout at first. "We're going to take our time, and build up the experience," Coleman said. The company's competitors include bone-plate manufacturers Wright Medical, Smith & Nephew PLC, Stryker Corp., Synthes Inc. and Johnson & Johnson unit DePuy Orthopedics Inc. These are also potential acquirers.

Later this year Sonoma intends to file for 510(k) clearance of a version of Ensplint for the clavicle. Over time, it intends to apply its technology to lower-extremity, weight-bearing bones.

The Series B financing should last the company into early 2009, Coleman said. Sonoma has 15 employees.



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