Askel Healthcare Oy
Askel offers a unique way to rebuild joint surfaces for pain-free movement. COPLA® is a medical device already on the 250M€ market for animal health with excellent clinical results. The next step is to enter into the 2.2B$ human market.
Vision and Mission
Askel’s vision is to provide everyone, humans as well as animals, a good quality of life free of pain. A good quality of life is a life where you are not restricted by your body to do the things you love.
The company mission is to offer the best treatment option for early cartilage damage and to prevent further joint degradation and osteoarthritis, the world’s most common joint disease. Askel is already able to help animals and currently the team is working on the goal to treat humans as well.
Why Askel Exists
One of the leading causes for difficulty in mobility is osteoarthritis (OA), which affects an estimated 242 million people worldwide1. OA is a degenerative joint disease that results from breakdown of joint tissues, including cartilage and bone. Unlike bone, damaged cartilage has almost no capacity to heal by itself. Cartilage damage, e.g. due to something as common as a minor sports injury, can be the start of degenerative joint disease in an otherwise healthy person. Therefore, the damaged joint should be treated as early as possible.
Unfortunately, there is no early treatment enabling the regeneration of cartilage and thus preventing further joint degradation. The current treatments mainly manage symptoms such as pain but do little to slow down the progress of the disease. For over 1 million people annually in the US alone, the disease progresses to a phase where joint replacement surgery is required. Tens of millions more live with debilitating joint pain. On average it takes 10 years from an OA diagnosis to the first joint replacement operation. These years are lived with declining mobility and increase of pain. To make matters worse, the artificial joints do not last forever, but need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years. This great gap in the treatment path was the original reason for the scientific work that led to the discovery of COPLA®.
Askel wants to improve the quality of life for patients with joint pain by providing a way of not just delaying, but avoiding, these highly invasive and expensive joint replacement operations. Regenerating cartilage to its original quantity and quality as early as possible after the tissue has been damaged is the only way to restore and maintain healthy joints. At Askel, we believe in the regenerative power of the body – when it comes to cartilage renewal, our joints just need a little help.
1 Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators. Lancet. 2015;386(9995):743-800.
COPLA® is designed together with orthopaedic surgeons and it is a result of a decade of scientific work. COPLA® is a 3D biodegradable scaffold for cartilage repair in weight-bearing joints, such as knee. The modest looking square of white felt-like material comes with unique properties that make it a highly innovative and versatile solution for treating cartilage damage (Annex 1). COPLA® offers a solution for repairing damage of varying severity from local small cartilage injuries all the way to more severe damage reaching bone tissue. COPLA® provides the healing tissue with constant nutrient supply and a unique long-term support as it dissolves slowly while cartilage is regenerated.
COPLA® provides unique advantages for the patients. Instead of temporary relief provided by painkillers or steroid injections, COPLA® enables the regeneration of cartilage with permanent results. The biomechanical properties of COPLA® enable immediate load bearing making operated patients immediately mobile. Moreover, the material allows physiotherapy to be started right after the operation for faster recovery.
For doctors and hospitals, COPLA® opens a new opportunity in treating patients years earlier than before. The proposed surgical simplicity and cost efficiency make it possible to treat more patients at a lower cost, with fewer complications and to enable quick rehabilitation.
For the payer, i.e. the society and insurance companies, the main advantage is a radical reduction of cost, both in terms of money and in terms of improved quality of life. The burden of osteoarthritis on health and social care systems is considered a public health crisis with a per-patient medical costs averaging 11,000$ per-year between 2008 to 2014. The total medical costs and earning losses due to arthritis were 304B$ in USA alone in 2013. As permanent and preventive solution, COPLA® treatment also cuts indirect costs significantly, e.g., by diminishing the need for reoperation and by reducing pain related disability.
Why invest in Askel?
- There’s an unmet medical need of early cartilage repair to prevent further joint degradation and osteoarthritis. Askel will bring a new level of therapeutic results to the growing 2.2B$ cartilage repair and regeneration market and targets to become a category leader through its novel technology.
- COPLA® (with the product name COPLA® Scaffold) is already on the market for animal health with excellent clinical results and proven quality.
- Production facility is ready, and the product can already be produced in high volumes decreasing technology risk. Application and clinical use are the same in Animal Health and Human Health and success in veterinary use will with high probability correspond success in human use.
- Due to its superior product qualities Askel sees a rapid market penetration opportunity with a licensing partner, among the leading global top-tier medical device firms.
- There is a unique mix of competencies in the core team supported with strong advisors to be complemented with business development capabilities. The team is highly motivated and capable of bringing COPLA® to the market.
- Askel targets major valuation up-ticks when having first proof points from human clinical studies (2022), and especially when entering into human market (2024) creating potential value realization opportunities for investors.