Hylomorph | 10 Things You Should Know About the Swiss Health Tech Startup

What is it?
Hylomorph is a medical device company based in Zurich, currently employing 5 people. The startup has developed a product that reduces complications associated with implants and devices - such as pacemakers and breast implants.
In a nutshell - how does it work?
The product acts like an invisibility cloak: It shields the implants that are “foreign” to the patient’s body and prevents the body’s immune system from recognizing them and surrounding them with fibrotic scar tissue.
What does that look like?
The product looks like a wet transparent membrane and can be wrapped around implants of all shapes and sizes. The envelope is then sealed to make sure that everything is covered by the material.
What is the material made of?
The membrane is made out of cellulose - the same material that is found in paper or plants, except that it is produced with 100% purity through a biotech fermentation process. 98% of the material is water, which leads to a slippery texture that is easy for the surgeon to handle and implant.
What’s special about the product?
One of the surfaces of the material has a micro-topography, which interacts with the way cells recognize surfaces. The intellectual property of the company lies in the method of how this microstructure is applied to the surface through a combination of microelectronic and biotech processes.
Are cells really fooled by that?
Yes. When cells approach the surface of the tissue and touch it, they do not recognize the material as a foreign body and, as a consequence, move on to deal with something else.
How does one come up with that?
There’s a world renowned group of researchers at ETH Zurich who work in the field of “mechanotransduction” - a process that refers to ​how cells sense physical forces and translate them into biochemical and biological responses. At some point, the founders decided to go all the way and created Hylomorph.
What’s the next step for the company?
Hylomorph was incubated at the Wyss Institute in Zurich and has just finished the program. The company has now moved into its own office space and is now in the final stages of product development.
What is the company looking for in Boston?
Boston is a life sciences epicenter - but in the case of Hylomorph, it offers also a clear regulatory advantage compared to Europe. A similar device already exists in the market, which significantly lowers the entry barrier and cost for the Swiss startup.
When will the product be on the market?
Peter Jackson, CCO of Hylomorph, estimates a market entry in the US in mid 2020 - after passing all the regulatory hurdles. “So according to our plans, we’re going to be on the market and approved from a regulatory perspective probably 18 months before we would be in Europe”.

 

 

Photo credit: Hylomorph