HYLOMORPH is a startup project that was being accelerated at Wyss Zurich from 2015 to 2020. It is one of the four initial projects with which Wyss Zurich started its operations.
The objective of HYLOMORPH is to minimize post-surgical complications in medical implants, improve patients' quality of life and reduce associated healthcare costs.
As the first medical project to be concluded at Wyss Zurich, HYLOMORPH has reached a significant milestone by conducting a first-in-man clinical trial marking the successful completion of its incubation period at Wyss Zurich.
It is estimated that patients receive more than 10 million medical implants each year worldwide, notably in connection with cardiovascular and plastic surgery.
Owing to the sub-optimal biocompatibility of existing medical implants, every time a surgeon places such an implant in a patient, fibrosis occurs in the surrounding tissue. The patient’s immune system responds with what is known as the foreign body reaction, in which the hosting tissue recognizes the implant as foreign and covers it with a thick layer of fibrotic tissue in an attempt to isolate, destroy and expel it.
Fibrosis is among the primary causes of the malfunction and failure of implantable medical devices. It is also associated with infections and can cause pain. Consequently, revision surgeries are often required post-implant, leading to a costly and lengthy recovery process. It has been reported that up to 20% of all implanted patients need correcting intervention and implant replacement because of fibrosis.
To address this critical medical need, the HYLOMORPH team has developed a unique surgical membrane that optimizes the interface between implants and human tissue. Preparation of the membrane takes place using a patented biotech process, in which non-pathogenic bacteria are cultured in combination with micro-engineered silicone surfaces to produce thin films of nano-cellulose, featuring a finely controlled surface topography. In the team’s pre-clinical studies, micro-structured biosynthesized cellulose membranes led to an 80% reduction in fibrotic tissue formation at three months after surgery.
Thanks to Wyss Zurich, HYLOMORPH was able to complete pre-clinical validation of its technology and lay the groundwork for regulatory approval in the EU and the US. The team is now working in collaboration with three clinics in Germany, where a first-in-man clinical trial is currently underway.
By the end of the project at Wyss Zurich, in June 2020, 10 patients receiving pacemakers and undergoing defibrillator surgery had benefitted from HYLOMORPH’s therapy.
The HYLOMORPH project began at Wyss Zurich as a collaboration (“HeartOne”) with Zurich Heart, a research initiative of University Medicine Zurich that is using a variety of novel approaches to revolutionize VAD technologies.
University Hospital Zurich
Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin