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Imbed Bio Snags $1.6M to Commercialize Infection-Preventing Dressing

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

[Updated 1/3/18 1:13 p.m. See below.Imbed Biosciences has raised a funding round of nearly $1.6 million, which the Fitchburg, WI-based startup plans to use to begin selling an ultra-thin wound dressing material later this year, CEO Ankit Agarwal says.

Imbed has spent years working on its product platform, which was used to develop the dressing, Microlyte Ag. It’s underpinned by nanofilm technology that uses silver’s antimicrobial properties to kill infection-causing pathogens, helping wounds heal in a way that does not require treatment with potentially harmful levels of the metal.

On its website, Imbed claims that Microlyte Ag contains anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of times less silver than some of the silver-based antimicrobial dressings commercially available today. Competitors in the global advanced wound dressings market, which the research firm GlobalData projects will eclipse $3.5 billion by 2021, include Argentum Medical, Coloplast, and Smith & Nephew (NYSE: SNN).

In an e-mail message to Xconomy, Agarwal says his company expects Microlyte Ag will launch sometime this summer. Imbed announced in August 2016 that it received FDA clearance to market the dressing for human use. The startup expects that healthcare providers will use Microlyte Ag to treat burns, surgical wounds, and chronic foot ulcers, Agarwal says. The dressing could also be sold as an over-the-counter medication for treating minor burns and cuts.

According to a document Imbed filed with federal securities regulators late last week, 11 investors participated in the company’s latest round of financing. Agarwal says Madison-based WISC Partners led the round, and that all of the other participants had likewise invested in Imbed previously.

Launched in 2010, Imbed has now raised about $2.3 million in equity funding from outside investors, Agarwal says. The startup has supplemented that capital with about $2 million in federal grant funding, including a $1.5 million award from the National Institutes of Health in 2014, he says. [Updated with information from Ankit Agarwal.]

Imbed plans to raise a larger Series A funding round later this year, potentially in the range of $4 million, Agarwal says.

Imbed expects to announce partnerships with one or more other healthcare businesses that sell wound care products to hospitals and clinics in the coming months, he says. Agarwal says his company would then work with those partners to get Microlyte Ag in the hands of healthcare providers, retailers, and, eventually, patients.

The dressing has already been used to treat hundreds of patients, Agarwal says. Imbed recently got word from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that hospitals and clinics who treat certain Medicare patients with Microlyte Ag would be able to get reimbursed for the care they provide, he adds. The dressing is now part of a category of gelling fiber dressings that share a CMS-created billing code, Agarwal says. [Updated with information from Ankit Agarwal.]

If Imbed is successful in bringing Microlyte Ag to market, it could be the beginning of a shift to using silver-based dressings to prevent—rather than treat—infection as a wound heals, Agarwal says. That’s because the silver concentrations in many antimicrobial wound dressings used today are high enough that they can cause irritation and even be toxic to healthy human skin cells.

Agarwal says Imbed envisions Microlyte Ag becoming part of a broader product line in the future.

“We have a pipeline of enhanced versions of Microlyte [Ag] dressing with anti-biofilm agents and local anesthetics to manage pain and infections in wounds,” he says.