The project denovoSkin was being accelerated at Wyss Zurich from October 2016 to March 2022.
During this time, the project, led by Daniela Marino and Fabienne Hartmann-Fritsch, developed from a promising research project of the University of Zurich and the Children's Hospital Zurich into the successful startup CUTISS with international visibility.
In recent years, a personalized skin tissue engineering product for the treatment of skin defects (e.g. burns), has been manufactured in the GMP facility of the Wyss Zurich's Regenerative Medicine Technologies Platform. CUTISS’ first-in-line product is currently* in phase 2 clinical trials.
With the construction of its own GMP facility, CUTISS achieved a successful technology transfer from Wyss Zurich's Regenerative Medicine Technologies Platform, marking a successful completion of the project denovoSkin from the Wyss Zurich Accelerator. This step also enables the start-up to scale up the development of their therapy and to meet the needs of patients with severe skin injuries.
Since its foundation in 2017, the company, headquartered at the Bio-Technopark in Zurich, has won multiple prizes including the Top 100 Swiss Startup Award 2020, and has raised about CHF 50 million from private investors, family offices and public bodies.
(*Information Status as of March 2022)
After severe wounding, human skin fails to regenerate and physiologically heals by scar formation. Worldwide, millions of people suffer from severe skin defects or diseases requiring surgical interventions to restore skin function.
Existing therapies frequently leave these patients with permanent, painful, disfiguring, and debilitating scars. Scars may impair movement and growth, and often require several follow-up surgeries, intense homecare and psychosocial rehabilitation. Severe skin defects significantly affect quality of life in a long term, along with the economic burden for the health-care system. Human skin is composed of an outer epidermis, a dermis and a hypodermis. The components of the dermis control and regulate scarring. Today, standard of care consists in harvesting a thin layer of healthy patient’s skin, which contains the epidermis but only remnants of the dermis. Since sufficient dermis is missing, these grafts often develop into scars. Furthermore, in severe cases, where most of the skin has been destroyed (e.g. burns), the shortage of healthy skin, that needs to be harvested to heal the wounds, represents a real clinical challenge.
In 2001 a team of the University-Children’s Hospital Zurich led by Prof. Dr. M. Meuli and Prof. Dr. E. Reichmann pursued the vision of bio-engineering personalized dermo-epidermal skin grafts, using a small sample of patients’ own cells. One of the developed products, denovoSkin now developed by CUTISS, is the result of more than fifteen years of research.