One South Carolina startup relies on the Southeastern U.S. history of engineering innovation, new infrastructure and quality of life to drive drug delivery innovation through nanoparticles.
Paul Snyder, Write2MarketOnce home to a thriving textile industry replete with chemical and mechanical engineers working to improve the soil and machinery converting raw cotton into commercial goods, upstate South Carolina may be on the precipice of its next industrial revolution: medtech.
Born from technology developed at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Greenville-based Zylö Therapeutics is utilizing the regional chemical/mechanical engineering expertise and support network to improve drug and nitric oxide delivery through a proprietary sustained delivery system called Nanopods. Formally founded in late 2017, the company secured exclusive, worldwide rights to the technology and is currently working to solve the chemical and manufacturing issues that will enable scale-up and commercialization.
Here’s how Zylö Therapeutics describes the technology: “The delivery system uses patented hydrogel-derived nanoparticles, called Nanopods, to deliver—in a sustained and controlled manner—notoriously hard-to-deliver therapeutic agents through topical administration. With our system, Zylö has harnessed the powerhouse therapeutic, nitric oxide, as well as other therapeutics that have bioavailability challenges.”
Putting regional talent and assets to work
Zylö Therapeutics has established a commercially focused lab at CUBEInC, Clemson University’s Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus in Greenville where it occupies about 400 sq. ft. including bench space.
“There is a lot more medtech talent, especially engineering talent, in the Greenville and Upstate region than most of the country realizes,” said Zylö Therapeutics CEO Scott Pancoast. “We all love being near the entrepreneurs, startups and university professors. It is an environment well suited for cultivating promising ideas and young companies seeking to commercialize innovations in biomedical engineering.
“The Southeast medtech ecosystem, including the institutions of higher education, is maturing collectively. It is finding itself and demonstrating an ability to attract and retain talent thanks to a laid-back atmosphere, low cost of living and high quality of life. If you were a smart Duke graduate 20 or 30 years ago, you got hired away to New York, San Francisco or Chicago. Now the region is keeping more and more talent here.
“When combined with proximity to the Research Triangle, Clemson, Furman, support systems like the South Carolina Research Alliance and sophisticated funding organizations like Venture South, the Upstate region of South Carolina — and the Southeast as a whole — looks more and more like San Diego did about 20 years ago.”
The addressable market
The capabilities and applications for the company’s technology are myriad, Pancoast said. “We have harnessed the power of not only nitric oxide, but also curcumin and CBD and many other therapeutic agents.”
Those applications include significant enhancements to OTC and direct-to-consumer cosmetic and skin-care products as well as improved treatments for wound care, infections, acne and pain, as well as sustained nicotine delivery for smoking cessation, without a patch, just to name a few.
The addressable cosmeceutical market alone, which should not require burdensome regulatory approval for Zylö Therapeutics’ technology, is several billion dollars per year.
Big ideas require big money. While typical startups that require FDA approval will need $50 million or more to reach cash-flow breakeven; Zylö’s initial reliance on non-regulated product opportunities should minimize the company’s need for funding, according to Pancoast.
“We are eager for more big medtech ideas to be born out of the Upstate region and to see the universities — including their alumni bases — collaborate more closely with the corporate, venture and legal entities to help guide innovators and founders through the often-intimidating commercialization pathway. This type of collaboration is now second nature in other U.S. medtech innovation hubs. We aren’t there yet, but there is mounting evidence that the Southeast medtech ecosystem has the assets and people in place to support more successful medtech innovation and commercialization.”
Zylö Therapeutics will participate in the SEMDA 2018 Medtech Conference PitchRounds competition May 2–4, 2018 in Greenville, S.C.
Paul Snyder is VP Healthcare for Write2Market, an Atlanta-based digital marketing firm and member of the Southeastern Medical Device Association.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of MedicalDesignandOutsourcing.com or its employees.