More than half of the hospital infections are caused by the use of medical devices such as catheters and implants. Boy, do I know. My oldest son got a serious infection when hospitalized and ended up at Intensive Care. Dutch nanotech-startup Lipocoat wants to fight these life-threatening bacterial infections in hospital environments and raised €600,000 in seed funding to do so.
According to Lipocoat, hospital infections lead to more than 100,000 deaths per year in the US alone. “This exceeds the number of deaths caused by breast cancer and prostate cancer combined”, the University of Twente-incubated startup writes us. “Unfortunately, medical devices are easily contaminated with bacteria. Especially adhered bacteria cause severe infections and result in an increase in the use of antibiotics.”
Killing 10 million people
This is what happened to our son. He had to be closely monitored in IC, got pumped full of antibiotics and had to stay two weeks longer in the hospital. It took him two months to fully recover. With bacteriae becoming resistant to antibiotics, killing an extra 10 million people by 2050, you can imagine this is one of the biggest threats to healthcare in the coming decades.
Bacteria repelling coating
LipoCoat recognized this problem and has developed a natural, bacteria repelling coating based on nanotechnology. The coatings, for example, catheter coatings and coatings for orthopedic implants, are the result of years of research at the University of Twente. “The LipoCoat coatings are innovative because of their bacteria repelling formulation”, the startup states. “In addition, the coatings are able to attract water which reduce surface friction and increase lubricity. This could lead to improved patient comfort when using catheters.”
The Twente-based university spin-out raised €600,000 in seed funding from private investors, in government grants, and from strategic partners. Jasper de Weerd, formerly a lecturer and post-doc researcher at the University of Twente, is the founder and managing director of the company (top image, center). He started with researching coating for contact lenses during his PhD at the University but is now battling hospital infections too.
Prof. Pascal Jonkheijm (image left) and Prof. Marcel Karperien (image right) act as co-founders and R&D-advisors. Alain le Loux, a partner at Cottonwood Technology Fund, also participates as a CFO and investor. In 2016, LipoCoat earned the title ‘Nanotech start-up of the Year’ in the Netherlands.