From the second floor of a small Brooklyn building, Joe Landolina, co-founder of the biotech company Suneris, leads a team of researchers developing VetiGel, an invention that can almost magically stop severe bleeding in seconds. Whether a trickle from a scrape or a geyser from a stab wound, bleeding that requires several minutes to stop with current medical products clots in less than 20 seconds with this opaque, goopy gel.
This month, Suneris will begin distributing its coagulation product for use outside of their lab. One hundred veterinary clinics will be their first customers, who, in a round of beta testing, will use the gel to stop bleeding in animals undergoing procedures such as biopsies and dental extractions. In the future, this means that practices such as many a Dentist in Sarasota as well as other locations could be able to apply this gel to clot bleeding within a tooth socket. This will greatly decrease the chance of a tooth extraction patient to experience dry socket post-surgery, which can cause extreme pain and discomfort.
Joe Landolina hopes he will receive FDA approval for external use on humans this year. Though it will take a little longer to hit the consumer market, tubes of VetiGel may be in all of our medicine cabinets in the future.
Although the biomedical product development process is slow, Suneris—which is privately held and was incorporated in 2012—is advancing quickly. This month, the company will grow from 10 to 16 employees, and Mr. Landolina said his company plans to move to a larger space.
It’s a big jump from an NYU dorm room; Mr. Landolina, 21, launched his company with CFO Isaac Miller in 2010 when he was a freshman at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. The two friends entered the first iteration of the clotting gel in a competition sponsored by the Polytechnic School, winning a first prize of $10,000.
“At the very beginning during my freshman year, I was able to treat it as a school club—like an every Thursday night thing,” Mr. Landolina told the Observer. “Then as we moved closer and closer to graduation, it became something that was more and more full-time. In my final semester, everyone here was working 40-hour work weeks and stepping out for their classes.”
Mr. Landolina conceived the idea behind the technology at a very young age. He grew up on an Upstate New York vineyard owned by his grandfather, a chemist who had worked for Hoffmann-La Roche. “Everyday after school he’d show me how to make wine, and then he’d let me do whatever I wanted in the labs,” recalled Mr. Landolina. “So, I would just mix things together. My mom was always very overprotective and she’d tell me that I could only work with safe chemicals and plants.”
While studying algae one day, he discovered a liquid that solidified very quickly—his eureka moment. That discovery grew into VetiGel, which similarly clots blood by taking on the properties of tissue it comes in contact with and solidifying to stop the flow of blood from the wound.
For Mr. Landolina, a competitive biotech company and the honor of being named a 2014 TED Global Fellow, evolved from his backyard tinkering, but it’s still only the beginning. He believes he can successfully create the “Band-Aid of the future.” — Sage Lazzaro
Photo: The Last Step Of Blood Coagulation Is Marked By The Transformation Of A Soluble Blood Protein, Fibrinogenic, Into Insoluble Fibrin, Having The Consistency Of Blood Clot. The Strands Of Fibrin Forming A Network Of Which The Nodes Are Composed By Agregates Of Platelets Surrounding The Red Blood Corpuscles. Sem X 1800. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)
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