Australian company TekCyte opens door to investors before hitting the global stage with lifesaving ‘medtech’

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Adelaide-based company TekCyte is now seeking investors to fund the expansion of their revolutionary medtech BIOINVISIBLE – a drug-free medical device coating that could curb global rates of infection from implanted devices and potentially save thousands of lives each year.

Developed for commercialisation out of the Cell Therapy Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, based at the University of South Australia, and spearheaded by TekCyte CEO Dr Tony Simula, BIOINVISIBLE is a hydrophilic hyperbranched polyglycerol polymer that acts as a physical barrier on devices such as catheters, orthopaedic implants and stents.

During extensive laboratory testing the remarkable tech demonstrated extreme reduction in biofilm – which means it could drastically reduce infection rates associated with implanted devices. This is in addition to its demonstrated ability to reduce clots, which may reduce blood clots from certain devices like stents and heart valves.

“The World Health Organisation has identified infection as one of their top global concerns due to the growing number of antibiotic resistant bacteria and they anticipate by 2050 there will be 10 million deaths across the planet each year if something isn’t done,” Dr Simula said.

“TekCyte sees a real opportunity with BIOINVISIBLE to tackle the problem of infection from devices like catheters. Virtually every patient admitted to a hospital will have a catheter of some description inserted into their vein. Some catheters like central venous catheters (CVCs) may remain in place for many weeks and, as a result, are much more prone to infection.

“In Australia alone, there are about 4,000 bloodstream infections from CVCs each year and 20 per cent of those patients die. In 2015, this cost Medicare $36 million. In the US, there are around 250,000 infections annually from CVCs with similar death rates.

“And while there are many companies out there that have coatings to prevent biofilm, their tech relies on incorporating drugs, and this all adds to a greater risk of drug resistant bacteria. BIOINVISIBLE, on the other hand, is drug-free and can be chemically bonded to the surface of many devices.”

It’s why Dr Simula is now beelining for the world’s major medtech players, who are based out of the States and Europe, with interest already mounting from companies who produce devices such as catheters.

“Our business model is not to take a BIOINVISIBLE-coated catheter or other device to the market ourselves as that would take up to 10 years for a new company,” Dr Simula said.

“Instead, what we’re aiming to do is to partner with companies that already have a product on the market such as catheters. This reduces time to market as our partner would only need to obtain approval of a new coating on their already approved product. This also gives those companies an opportunity to differentiate from their competitors,” he said.

Dr Simula will travel to Dusseldorf’s Medica Exhibition this November – which is one of the largest medical B2B trade fairs in the world. More than 4500 exhibitors from 66 countries will be on display and an estimated 81,000 visitors from across the globe are expected to attend.

“This is a great opportunity for us to show our tech and gauge more interest in BIOINVISIBLE while showcasing its capabilities,” he said.

Dr Simula has already been working tirelessly with his talented team of eight for years, and commercialisation efforts accelerated once the world opened back up following lengthy COVID-19 lockdowns.

Last year Dr Simula, who founded TekCyte in 2018, after a rich career that spanned publicly listed and private sector biotech/medtech companies, also travelled to New York, Dubai and London for medical conferences where he was able to develop vital networks to pave the way for BIOINVISIBLE’S growth.

He was also asked to present at a Dragon’s Den Innovation Showcase – a program where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of key industry opinion leaders and investors as part of the Charing Cross Vascular Symposium in London.

As to why he thinks the time is now ripe for investors, Dr Simula believes interest is mounting for medtech following a world-wide slump during the pandemic – and with BIOINVISIBLE already showing a range of potential benefits that could extend beyond the medical world, he sees a bright future for this homegrown and life-saving invention.

“There is the potential for BIOINVISIBLE to be used in different ways and we’re already tweaking the chemical process to enable its application to a large number of products such as dental implants and breast implants. We’re also looking at how BIOINVISIBLE can be used to prevent surface fouling – which is the accumulation of unwanted material on solid surfaces. This means it could potentially be used to coat the filtration membranes used in water treatment,” he said.

“We’re super excited by that prospect and it means we have another market that we haven’t even tapped into yet and that’s because we haven’t had the funds and we need investor interest so we can tap into other markets.

“We have already received feedback from US-based surgeons that BIOINVISIBLE could transform the industry and, given the medical coating industry is growing at a ridiculous rate, we feel incredibly optimistic about the impact of our product and its scope.”

Dr Simula said what ultimately makes TekCyte such a special company is the clever team behind him and their unique understanding of the interplay between surfaces and tissue and their ability to change those dynamics for customers.

“Not all coating companies have that capability inhouse. Additionally, our Board are all entrepreneurs in their own right and, from a shareholder perspective, that’s important.”

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