Biostage's first human throat implant successful, autopsy shows

BY Zachary Comeau

Biostage CEO Jim McGorry.

Biostage, a Holliston-based biotech specializing in regenerative medicine to treat diseases of the throat, announced on Tuesday its first esophageal implant resulted in a regenerated esophageal tube. 
The patient, a 75-year-old man, died Monday due to a stroke, but the company’s implant was proven to be effective, the company said in a conference call.
The man’s stroke was unrelated to the implant, according to Biostage, citing the man’s surgeon. 
The Cellspan Esophageal Implant in August was implanted into the man who was suffering from a life-threatening tumor in his chest. 
The surgeon noted an autopsy shows the man’s esophageal tube regenerated except for a very small hole due to a synthetic graft not related to the company’s implant. The esophageal regeneration was consistent with regeneration previously been observed in Biostage’s large animal studies.
The announcement came during a conference call with investors about the company’s recent activity following a near bankruptcy experience after an investor pulled out of an agreement. 
“I really want to stress that it was purely a matter of funding, as we believe our technology and science are as robust as ever,” said CEO Jim McGorry. 
It was the company’s first update in months. It’s last conference call was held in August, before the company laid off 70 percent of its workforce and was delisted from NASDAQ. 
McGorry highlighted the company’s plans for overseas business in China after a $4.1-million investment from a group of Chinese investors. Esophageal cancer is a large unmet issue in China, he said. 
A former Biostage employee, Shunfu Hu, introduced Biostage to those investors, McGorry said. Now, Hu, again a Biostage employee, is exploring opening a subsidiary in China.