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Houston’s Adhesys Medical Forms Partnership with German Pharma Firm

Xconomy Texas — 

[Updated 5/12/16 10:15 am. See below.] Houston—Adhesys Medical, maker of a new surgical adhesive with its U.S. headquarters in Houston, has announced a commercialization partnership with a European pharmaceutical company.

Grünenthal is based in Aachen, Germany, which is where Adhesys—then known as Medical Adhesive Revolution—was founded. Adheysys won the Rice Business Plan Competition in 2014, receiving investment from Houston investors, such as the Goose Society, and then put down roots in the Bayou City.

Alexander Schueller, Adhesys’s president, said Grünenthal’s strong footprint in Europe and Latin America will help Adhesys sell its topical adhesive in those markets.

Schueller says the company is still pursuing a 510k approval from the FDA for its topical skin product, which it hopes to receive in 2017. “We are actively looking for a partner in the U.S.,” he says.

Adhesys’ surgical adhesive is made of polyurethane, a material already used in a variety of commercial applications in construction and automobiles. The issue has been turning that into a medical-grade product for use on and in the 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, the then-named Medical Adhesive Revolution formed as a separate company and bought the IP.

Adhesys says its “glue” is the “next evolution” in medical adhesive and can be spread on skin or organs to seal wounds within seconds. The company says its product is stronger than “many” currently available products. One such product used by surgeons is Dermabond.

Schueller moved to Houston two years ago to pursue commercial and investment contacts in the United States, as well as seek FDA approval to sell domestically. Adhesys wants to apply for its CE permit by the end of the year to meet European regulatory approvals. [Updated with more information on the company’s regulatory strategy.] “The inside body product requires a PMA approval,” Schueller says. “This product will be launched in Europe in 2019.”

Since Adhesys set up shop in Houston, it has been part of the Texas Medical Center’s TMCx accelerator’s first class and now has taken up residence at JLabs Houston co-working space.

Grünenthal was founded in 1946 by Herman Wirtz and is still family-owned. The German company was the first to introduce penicillin in post-World War II Germany. It also developed and manufactured thalidomide, intended as a morning sickness treatment, but the drug ultimately caused thousands of birth defects in the 1950s and 1960s, and was withdrawn from the market.