DURHAM – Bioventus, a global orthobiologics company headquartered in Durham, has invested $2.5 million in an Israeli company that has developed an implant for treating osteoarthritic knees.

The investment in CartiHeal, a privately held medical device company based in Kfar Saba, Israel, is part of a $21 million financing round led by aMoon, an Israeli life sciences venture capital firm. Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Peregrine Ventures and Elron also invested.

The funding will support CartiHeal’s ongoing clinical study of Agili-C, a proprietary device for treating joint surface lesions in traumatized and osteoarthritic knee joints.

“Agili-C shows great promise to relieve osteoarthritis pain for a large patient population, and we look forward following the pivotal trial to a successful culmination,” Bioventus CEO Tony Bihl said in a news release.

The Bioventus investment “is a vote of confidence by an important orthobiologic strategic player,” said CartiHeal CEO Nir Altschuler. “Bioventus joins our team of strategic investors who perceived the potential of the Agili-C implant. We are confident that Bioventus will bring substantial added value to CartiHeal.”

Agili-C is a cell-free, off-the-shelf implant that CartiHeal describes as “a porous, biocompatible, and resorbable bi-phasic scaffold, consisting of interconnected natural inorganic calcium carbonate (aragonite).”

The company said its Investigational Device Exemption trial began three months ago and has enrolled about 30 patients so far, with a goal of enrolling at least 250.  Study sites are in the United States, Europe and Israel.

The study is a prospective, multi-center, open-label, randomized, and controlled trial. CartiHeal said its objective is “to demonstrate the superiority of the Agili-C implant over the surgical standard of care – microfracture and debridement –for the treatment of cartilage or osteochondral defects, in both osteoarthritic knees and knees without degenerative changes.”

CartiHeal is aiming for a premarket approval (PMA) submission to the Food and Drug Administration. PMA would designate Agili-C as safe and effective, and allow the sale and use of the device.

Bioventus develops and markets orthobiologic products for bone healing, bone graft and knee osteoarthritis. The company has about 660 employees worldwide and generates about $250 million dollars in yearly revenue, according to its website.

Bioventus was formed in 2012 when Smith & Nephew, a global medical technology business, spun out its biologics division in Durham in partnership with Essex Woodlands, a healthcare growth equity firm, and other investors. The privately held company planned to raise $150 million with an initial public offering of stock in 2016 but withdrew the plan.