Alex Vodenlich, who has held executive positions at about half a dozen bioscience startups in Madison and beyond, is the new president and CEO of Cellular Logistics.
The Madison company is working on novel treatments for heart disease, designed not just to treat lingering symptoms but to repair damage.
Cellular Logistics’ Tandem HF technology, discovered by chief science officer Eric Schmuck in the research labs of cardiologist Amish Raval at the UW-Madison, is based on combining a framework of proteins derived from cardiac fibroblasts — a certain type of heart cell — with cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle stem cells.
Vodenlich said one of the problems with other heart therapies is that cardiomyocytes sent to the heart don’t stay there.
He said Cellular Logistics’ platform holds the heart cells in place and keeps the patient’s immune system from attacking them. “Delivered by catheter and injected into the damaged area of the heart, it promotes retention of the cells,” Vodenlich said.
He said the company, established in 2016, has found that in rat hearts, an injection of the heart stem cell combination has shown “greater than 80% retention after 24 hours.”
Next steps will include raising money to conduct tests on larger animals, such as pigs, which could take up to two years, followed by potential clinical trials on humans. Vodenlich said he is hoping to attract a drug development partner or two.
Cellular Logistics has two and a half employees and works out of UW-Madison labs.
More than 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.