|Joe Landolina, Suneris CEO and co-founder|
While there were plenty of health startups among the more than 30 companies featured at the first ever White House Demo Day in August, only one could boast it's already making a splash in animal health: New York based Suneris. During the event, the company's founder, Joe Landolina, demonstrated Vetigel, an algae-derived product designed to stop traumatic bleeding in 10 seconds.
Vetigel was developed by Landolina when he was a freshman at New York University. He entered the product into a business competition, winning second place, launched Suneris, and is now taking pre-orders from veterinarians, Landolina told Bioscience Technology in an interview. The company plans to ultimately develop the product for use in human health, as well.
Landolina, now 22, was a chemical and biomedical engineering major at NYU who developed Vetigel while studying polymer science. It took him four years to get from idea to product, he told Bioscience Technology.
Using synthetic materials to staunch bleeding was an option, Landolina said, but algae offered many more advantages. "Plant-based polymers are renewal resources and more easily sourced and very biocompatible, so the body will have well characterized reaction to them, or lack thereof," Landolina said.
Once Vetigel is applied to damaged tissue, the algae-based polymers prompt platelets to accumulate and bind to the injury site, creating a mesh-like substance. That allows a strong clot to form, stopping the bleeding.
Landolina believes the veterinary market will be receptive to the new technology, because the only other choices are geared toward treating people and tend to be less effective in animals. The company will be joining other makers of wound-repair products that have pegged the veterinary market for its high growth potential, including Oculus Innovative Sciences ($OCLS), which launched an animal health unit earlier this year.
Suneris has more than 25 employees and expects to grow to 300 "in the near future," Landolina said in the interview. After it gains a foothold in animal health, the company plans to pursue FDA approval for Vetigel, spotting potential opportunities in the military, emergency medicine and surgery.