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Five MIT Sloan companies to watch (continued)

InVivoInvivo - Frank Reynolds, MBA '06

InVivo Therapeutics, Fulfilling a Life's Mission

InVivo Therapeutics, a Cambridge-based medical device company, isn't just poised for success—the company is well on its way to creating a whole new clinical franchise in medicine and changing the lives of millions of people around the world who suffer from spinal cord injuries. Focused on combining polymers and stem cells to restore function in paralyzed individuals, InVivo Therapeutics has made a number of promising incremental steps toward finally unlocking the most difficult challenges surrounding the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Through a collaborated effort between MIT's Langer Lab and the Department of Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, they have developed a device, which is due on the market in 2010, that will provide the first “neuro-tissue engineered” therapy for spinal cord injuries. The developments that follow promise to help prevent the secondary loss of function associated with spinal cord trauma—including sensory, motor, bowel, and bladder—and, in the future, to potentially restore even fully paralyzed individuals to the level of function and activity they had prior to their injury.

For Frank Reynolds, MBA '06, chairman of the board, CEO, and one of the founders of InVivo Therapeutics, the company is more than just a business, it is his life's calling. When an accident left Reynolds paralyzed in 1992, many believed he would never walk again. But after spending years in bed, with little progress being made through traditional medical methods, he created his own plan for recovery. Fifteen months later, he was out of his body brace and establishing an impressive career at Siemens Corporation. When he came to MIT Sloan as part of the Sloan Fellows program in 2005, Reynolds met Professor Bob Langer, a prominent medical innovator working on new ways to approach spinal cord injuries. Within 10 minutes of meeting, the two knew that they should be working together. “It truly felt like it was my destiny,” Reynolds says. “When I was paralyzed, I was in health care on the mental health side of the business and was conducting FDA trials for anti-depressants. So I understood the regulatory path for getting a product to market, I knew about the design of studies, and I had exposure to all the areas of a life science company. Though my career plan wasn't about developing a treatment for paralysis, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to risk it all. I knew that everything I'd been through in life personally—and all those skill sets I had developed professionally—were going to be utilized for InVivo.”

Still studying at MIT Sloan when the company was founded, Reynolds split his time between classes and the InVivo office on the edge of campus. In May 2006, he completed his thesis, “InVivo Therapeutics Corporation.” Dedicating himself full-time to the company, he quickly made great strides toward a number of important goals. The company arrived at primate studies faster and for less money than any other company in the history of life sciences. Given the company's unprecedented success rate, Reynolds is hopeful that InVivo could one day change the lives of countless people who are suffering just as he once did.

“Nobody could ever explain to me why I walked again, but this really answered it for me. The reason I walked again was to bring this technology to market.”

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