Dermoglass becomes the first project funded by the CaixaImpulse program to be licensed to a pharmaceutical company, Laboratorios ERN. It is a new technology to tackle chronic ulcers developed by the research group “Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies” led by Dr. Elisabeth Engel at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), who is also Professor at Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC).
Dermoglass patented technology uses bioengineering and nanomaterials to solve a problem that affects around 100 million people in the world and that is considered a silent epidemic in the XXI century: chronic ulcers.
Dermoglass technology has recently been licensed by IBEC to the pharmaceutical company Laboratorios ERN, which will have the rights to exploit and commercialize this new technology in Europe. ERN will lead the development of the technology until it reaches the market, with the support of IBEC in the next phases of formulation and scaling, speeding up the technology transfer process. With Dermoglass, ERN laboratories open a new line of business that is committed to innovation and the development of its own product.
The project has been developed thanks to the support of different technology recovery and transfer programs, among which are the projects financed by La Caixa Banking Foundation such as the “CaixaImpulse Validate” (2015) and the “CaixaImpulse Consolidate” (2018), keys in the counseling and mentoring process. In addition, the project has also benefited from the EIT-Health PoC PLUS program (2016) and the Goteo crowdfunding platform (2014) in the SUMA UPC Program.
The problem: skin ulcers
Ulcers are lesions on the skin that appear due to poor blood flow to a certain area of the body. This deficiency can have varied causes, such as long periods of immobilization (in bed or wheelchair) or as a consequence of diabetes, in which patients suffer a worsening of blood circulation. In fact, many diabetes patients tend to suffer from the “diabetic foot”, which are wounds on the feet that arise as a result of the disease and that in 25% of cases lead to amputation.
The problem is that the ulcers are very difficult to heal since they heal slowly spontaneously (due to poor blood flow), and in 70% of cases they reappear. In people over 65 years of age, ulcers are the most frequent chronic wounds, but they can affect people of any age since they appear due to long periods of immobilization caused by different causes, such as a postoperative recovery or a bone fracture. These skin lesions cause pain, difficulty in mobility and often dependence to carry out the necessary periodic cures. In more serious cases, people must periodically go to the health center to perform them, or even be hospitalized in more extreme cases.
The solution: Dermoglass
There are currently numerous types of skin dressings on the market that are used to heal chronic ulcers, but these simply protect and isolate them from the external environment. There are also therapies based on cells and growth factors, although they are very expensive and have contraindications. The innovative Dermoglass technology goes one step further and accelerates the healing process of ulcers with the application of nanomaterials. This considerably reduces the negative effects for the people who suffer from them, and also the economic costs associated with their treatment.
Dermoglass technology, based on calcium nanoparticles, recovers damaged tissue by stimulating skin cells such as fibroblasts and also vascularization, that is the formation of new blood vessels to repair the affected tissue. As a result, the healing process is faster and more definitive.
The results obtained so far in an animal models are very encouraging and show that with Dermoglass, ulcers heal faster than with other dressings.
The product is currently in the preclinical and scale-up phase of production, and is expected to reach patients in a few years in an easy application form.
The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) is a CERCA centre (Centers de Recerca de Catalunya), twice recognized as the Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, on two occasions, and with the TECNIO seal as a technology developer and facilitator to companies. IBEC is a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) and conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence on the frontier between engineering and life sciences to generate knowledge, integrating fields such as nanomedicine, biophysics, biotechnology, tissue engineering and information technology applications in the field of Health. IBEC was created in 2005 by the Generalitat of Catalonia, the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC).
LABORATORIOS ERN, S.A. is a Barcelona pharmaceutical laboratory, founded in 1942, which has arrived to this day through successive mergers with 14 small laboratories throughout its 78-year history. During all these years, the objective has been to identify the therapeutic needs of the healthcare professional and make available medicines that they can trust, both for their quality and for their user-friendly characteristics and good acceptance by patients. In 2019, a project was started to promote collaboration with centers of excellence and investment in Start-ups, with the aim of promoting the development of innovative products for the pharmaceutical market.