Rensselaer recently licensed the patents to Xylos Corporation, a company originally established within the Rensselaer incubator program, and now with operations in the Watervliet, N.Y.-based Incubator and in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Xylos expects to begin worldwide production on a biosynthesized form of microbial cellulose for use in the health care industry including non-invasive and surgical applications -- estimated to be a $5 billion market.
"This gift from Kimberly-Clark will extend Rensselaer's growing leadership in biotechnology research and the transfer of discoveries made in the laboratory to the marketplace where they will benefit human health," said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.
Xylos was co-founded by Rensselaer alumni Gonzalo "Al" Serafica, Ph.D., and Jack Brennan. Serafica is vice president of research and development and oversees the company's development efforts at its Watervliet and Newtown facilities.
The company's first product line of XCell® Wound Dressings has been cleared for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on chronic wounds and first- and second-degree burns. In clinical studies the biomaterial has been shown to improve patient comfort and wound healing.
The biomaterial used in XCell® has proven to be several times more absorbent than traditional dressings, and is capable of holding 100 times its weight in fluid. Additionally, it delivers and absorbs moisture to and from a wound. The biomaterial can be engineered to be incredibly strong, to resorb material in and around a wound, and to carry and deliver active agents, such as medicines, within the material itself.
"This gift from Kimberly-Clark will take Xylos' product development to another level and allow us to offer a much more versatile product line," said Serafica. "The technology allows us to further enhance our planned product development and to potentially address markets and products that we were not previously able to consider."
"These protected supercritical drying patents, covering both material and process, will allow us to dramatically broaden our technology platform and expand our product portfolio," said Patrick A. McBrayer, CEO of Xylos. "Xylos believes this additional intellectual property will have immediate development potential for Xylos' topical and surgical products. Further, the combination of these new patents with Xylos' existing technology may lead to the ideal tissue engineering matrix."
Xylos' strategy is to make significant inroads in the health care industry. Its products perform like natural tissue and are being developed for use in topical and surgical medical applications. The company's long-range plans include wound-care dressings, implantable surgical devices, and tissue engineering.
As a Rensselaer graduate student, Serafica and Henry Bungay, professor of chemical engineering, invented the process to efficiently produce microbial cellulose. Rensselaer patented that process and licensed it to Xylos. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson licensed to Xylos the exclusive worldwide rights to its patents for using microbial cellulose in wound-care dressings. Xylos continues to augments its patent portfolio with additional patent applications.
Rensselaer's prominence in biomaterials and tissue engineering research makes it poised at a critical juncture for further industry-research and technology transfer opportunities. Rensselaer's Office of Technology and Commercialization has 80 active patents and more than 100 pending, according to Chuck Rancourt, the director. Additionally, the school has a strong history of industry-research partnerships. In 1999, the Dow Chemical Company donated patents for thin-film technology to the Institute.
"These are pieces of the technology commercialization puzzle that fit perfectly together," said Rancourt. "I'm delighted that both Rensselaer and Xylos will benefit from Kimberly-Clark's generous donation."
"Kimberly-Clark Worldwide hopes to identify future areas of collaboration with Rensselaer and other universities," said Corrine A. Sukiennik, director of the company's Global Technology Transfer program, located in Roswell, Georgia. "We are very interested in developing strong partnerships with universities and research institutions engaged in education and research activities that align with our technologies. In the case of the supercritical drying of microbial cellulose, it no longer fit our internal research program; however, it can be further developed and commercialized to contribute to the good of society. We are extremely proud to have found such an excellent outlet for advancing this technology through Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute," said Sukiennik.
Kimberly-Clark Worldwide is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Kimberly-Clark Corporation is a leading global consumer products company. Its tissue, personal care, and health care products are manufactured in 42 countries and sold in more than 150. Kimberly-Clark is home to some of the world's most trusted and recognized brands, including Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex, and Depends.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of research centers that are characterized by strong industry partnerships. The Institute is especially well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.