Orthocell (ASX:OCC) employees, shareholders and even patients might be lighting up expensive cigars this morning, as the company’s shares skyrocketed nearly 170 per cent from year-long lows.

OCC shares have hit as high as 29.5c, their highest point in seven months.

That’s all due to early data from the company’s Phase III trial of its CelGro technology in patients with damaged nerves, which has shown that patients have regained sensation and muscle function in affected limbs, reporting an 83 per cent improvement in muscle power.

  • Scroll down for the ASX’s other health and biotech movements today.

The trial, being conducted at St John of God Hospital in Perth and led by Western Australian orthopaedic nerve specialist Dr Alex O’Beirne, is recruiting 20 patients and currently 75 per cent of patients have been treated.

Orthocell’s CelGro technology makes collagen scaffolds. The technique involves using collagen — the glue that holds our bodies together — as a scaffold on which cells and tissues can grow.

The company is also hoping to treat tendon damage and bone regeneration.

It has a number of TGA-approved cell therapies, meaning it is actively making money, unlike many pre-revenue biotech companies. CelGro has CE Mark approval and is being readied for Australian and US regulatory approval.

Dr O’Beirne paid tribute to the product, saying it greatly improved patient outcomes.

“The nerve injuries suffered by the patients in this study were so severe that they would not have been able to regain normal use of their injured arm and hand without microsurgery,” he said.

“The surgery can be very complex and difficult, but using CelGro has enabled us to rejoin severed nerves without tension. CelGro increases the strength and quality of the repair and makes surgery easier.

“I am very pleased with the patients’ progress, regaining use of affected limbs faster than I would have expected and they continue to improve.”

A patient, Daniel Hunt, said it had changed his life.

“After my football injury, I had no feeling in my right shoulder. I couldn’t pick up my kids, swim, or play football.

“When Dr O’Beirne said that being in the CelGro study might improve outcomes, I thought it would be worth trying.

“I’m living a normal life now. I can pick up my kids and I even swam a duo to Rottnest! I might even be able to play footy again next year-something that I thought would never happen.”

The company hopes to complete recruitment by the end of the financial year.

In other ASX health and biotech news today

Actinogen (ASX:ACW) shares stable after yesterday’s bad newsAfter a long, long wait, Actinogen yesterday told investors that its Xanamem drug was safe, but not effective. The company’s shares plummeted nearly 70 per cent, and today have traded between 1.4c and 1.5c. Actinogen says all is not lost, with the results offering “great encouragement” to pursue studies at higher doses.

Osprey (ASX:OSP) to recruit up to 10,000 participants in medtech trial. Its DyeVert technology reduces contrast while maintaining image quality, part and parcel of its approach to make heart imaging procedures safer for patients with poor kidney function. The company has launched the DyeMINISH registry, designed to enrol up to 10,000 participants to evaluate the ongoing safety and performance of DyeVert Contrast Reduction System during standard clinical use.