Axcelon leverages bacterial cellulose expertise with Nanoderm launch
Axcelon Biopolymers, which plans to go public in the current quarter, has developed a sales and marketing plan with a leading wholesaler and its own sales team to gain maximum market share in Canada for its Nanoderm bacterial cellulose dressing to heal burns and wounds.
“We also have ongoing discussions with local distributors in China and the Middle East, with hopes to launch in 2016, and we are targeting partner agreements in the U.S. and Europe, also in 2016,” Claude LeDuc, president and COO, says in an interview with BioTuesdays.com.
“However, our first order of business is to make Nanoderm a success in Canada,” he adds. “We believe it is a breakthrough product that would be well received by the medical community.”
Chandra Panchal, chairman, CEO and CSO, explains that microbial cellulose has distinct physico-chemical characteristics that make it unique among biomaterials. It is a safe material that offers an enormous fluid retention capacity and can maintain its shape and mechanical properties when hydrated.
“Our novel production technology has the potential to massively increase current yields and create ‘green’ sustainable cellulose production, not only for biomedical but also non-medical applications,” he adds.
The company’s lead application for the technology is in the area of wound care, including venous and pressure leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers. Axcelon’s DermaCare subsidiary has acquired exclusive rights to finish manufacturing and marketing of Nanoderm in Canada and other jurisdictions.
Mr. LeDuc says Nanoderm is a unique “second skin” to heal burns and wounds. Among other things, Nanoderm is designed as a comfortable biocompatible film dressing, with high tensile strength that reduces pain and protects against bacterial infection.
In a majority of cases, Nanoderm is a one-time dressing application. The dressing does not need to be replaced and a secondary dressing is not needed, he adds. Nanoderm is stable at room temperature and has a shelf life of two years.
Earlier clinical testing demonstrated that bacterial cellulose dressing accelerates wound closure in patients with venous leg ulcers by 42 days, compared with traditional dressings. It also accelerated wound closure in patients with diabetic foot ulcers by 16 days, compared with traditional dressings.
According to Mr. LeDuc, Nanoderm can significantly benefit the healthcare system by reducing total material and nursing costs to about $328 per patient from $1,200 with other dressings after 90 days of treatment.
In Canada, Mr. LeDuc says Axcelon has teamed up with The Stevens Company and their wound care sales team of 16 people to distribute Nanoderm. Stevens, a leading wholesaler, will focus on the hospital, home care and private clinic market. The company also has staff dedicated to buying groups, including HealthPro and MedBuy.
“We are in the process of raising money, with a part of the proceeds earmarked to build a network of our own sales and marketing staff,” Mr. LeDuc adds.
Dr. Panchal says the company is in the process of negotiating a reverse takeover to obtain a listing on the TSX Venture Exchange as well as to raise up to $6-million.
Mr. LeDuc explains that the company’s 2015 sales and marketing strategy includes introducing Nanoderm to key opinion leaders in Canada, as well as wound care clinics and specialists, including doctors and nursing agencies. The company also plans to meet with hospital wound care committees.
In 2016, the Canadian strategy will focus on bidding for contracts at hospitals and the home care market, and positioning Nanoderm with large hospital purchasing groups.
Dr. Panchal says Nanoderm has a high clinical impact and is cost effective. “We expect to begin generating revenue in 2015, with a follow-on product launch in 2017.”
Currently known as Nanoderm Ag, the follow-on product is a unique approach to incorporating silver nano-particles into Nanoderm to bring a sustained release of silver, an approved antimicrobial agent for wound care, and hence a stability advantage over currently available antimicrobial dressings, resulting in greater patient comfort, and a decreased need for dressing changes to treat infected wounds.
In addition to its DermaCare arm, Axcelon has two divisions developing potential biomedical and non-medical applications with bacterial cellulose and collagen.
Dr. Panchal says that in its biomedical arm, the company is developing high value bacterial nanocellulose-based biomaterials for tissue engineering, and drug and vaccine delivery applications, with a goal of out-licensing to major pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies.
Axcelon’s medical device pipeline includes biomaterial projects for a more durable and comfortable contact lens, with the potential for drug delivery through the lens; an electrospun collagen nanocomposite similar to the human ear drum; very tiny diameter synthetic vascular grafts that have tissue-like mechanical properties almost identical to blood vessels; and an oral vaccine against H. Pylori bacterial infections.
Dr. Panchal figures that over the next 12-to-18 months, Axcelon expects to achieve proof-of-concept in animals for its tympanic membrane, prototype development for its vascular grafts, along with development updates for its contact lens.
In its non-medical biomaterials division, Axcelon has licensed a patented bacterial strain from Agriculture Canada that has the ability to produce bacterial cellulose in 24 hours, compared with existing production methods that require 10-to-14 days.
The company is currently working with the National Research Council of Canada to scale-up production of bacterial cellulose from the bacterial strain, Dr. Panchal points out.
“This new cellulose-producing strain will enable us to become a world leader in manufacturing bulk bacterial nanocellulose for industrial applications,” he adds.