[Corrected 3/22/15, 8:45 pm. See below.] For Medical Adhesive Revolution, a German-born biotech company, Houston has been good for business.
Last year, the company won the prestigious Rice University Business Plan Competition, becoming the first foreign company to do so. And this month, the biotech has officially moved its headquarters and its president, Alexander Schueller, to Houston where the company will join 21 other startups at the Texas Medical Center’s new accelerator, TMCx.
“We’re really looking forward to interacting with the community in Houston and getting our product in front of these institutions,” Schueller says. CEO Marius Rosenberg and other top executives of the company will remain in Aachen, Germany.
Medical Adhesive Revolution has developed what the company says is the next evolution in surgical adhesives, namely, stronger than current market products like Dermabond or fibrin.
“Dermabond is from J&J, and while it’s strong and seals very fast, you cannot use it inside the human body,” he says. (Dermabond is used instead of sutures to seal wounds and incisions in the skin.) “Fibrin is used in the body but it is very weak. We have shown in tensile tests that our product is 25 times stronger than fibrin.”
The adhesive that MAR is working with is made of Polyurethane, which already has a variety of commercial applications in construction and automobiles. The issue has been turning into a medical-grade product that could be used on and inside the human body. Heike Heckroth, the company’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, worked on the adhesive at Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant. But after Bayer decided not to pursue the project, Medical Adhesive Revolution formed as a separate company and bought the IP.
The company is developing two products, one that would be used on the skin in lieu of stitches, and one that could be used by surgeons inside the body. “When a surgeon hits an artery, you can put our glue on it and seal it,” Schueller says. “You can use it to reattach organs. If there’s a cut in a lung, seal a cut.”
Schueller says he expects to file for clearance from the FDA to market the topical version of the adhesive by early next year at the latest, under the 510k regulatory pathway. The company hopes to have its second product, for use inside the body, sometime in 2017 . [An earlier version of this story stated the internal-use product was scheduled to be on the market in 2016.] To support these efforts, MAR expects to soon close on $2.6 million, which will be led by the Goose Society of Texas, a group of individual investors in Houston.
The company had previously raised $2.5 million from European investors. At the Rice competition last year, it won more than $500,000—$200,000 of that came from the Goose group, which counts among its members Jack Gill, co-founder of Vanguard Ventures and a Rice entrepreneurship professor; Rod Canion, founder of Houston’s Compaq Computer; and Nancy Chang, who founded biotech Tanox in Houston. Ashok Rao, a Goose member and president of the Houston chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs, now sits on the company’s board. The Greater Houston Partnership also invested $100,000 in MAR.
As Schueller settles in at the accelerator, company executives are looking to hire someone in Houston to lead their regulatory efforts, putting together plans to build a supply chain, and getting in front of surgeons who would be using their product.
“We need to gain the trust of surgeons, that they can truly rely on our adhesive,” he says. “Now we will have the access to those surgeons.”