LipoCoat, a new University of Twente spin-off company, will receive a grant worth €93,000 from NanoNextNL. The company has developed and patented an extremely thin coating that prevents contaminants from sticking to the surface of medical devices such as contact lenses and catheters. Its initial focus is a coating for contacts to prevent irritated eyes. LipoCoat plans to use the NanoNextNL ‘Valorisation Grant’ to further develop a prototype and to prepare a wear study among contact lens users.
In the Netherlands alone, over 2 million people wear contact lenses. Their main disadvantage is the risk of irritation or even infection due to proteins or bacteria that attach themselves to the surface of the lens. Over half of all wearers experience discomfort, which is the main reason why around 20 percent stop wearing contacts all together. A coating inspired by nature is expected to change this. LipoCoat, a University of Twente spin-off company currently being set up, has developed an extremely thin layer that manufacturers will be able to apply to their lenses to help prevent discomfort.
LipoCoat’s patented coating is only five nanometres thick (one nanometre is a million times smaller than a millimetre) and is inspired by the outer layer of human and animal cells. The biggest challenge in developing the coating was to make sure it was stable. LipoCoat’s developers discovered the solution thanks to a molecule that anchors the layer to a surface. Lab test have shown that the coating is very effective. LipoCoat will use the grant to appoint a researcher at the University of Twente’s MESA+ institute to continue prototype development and to prepare a study among contact lens users.
The patented coating will first be used to improve contact lenses. The company is developing a ‘printer’ with ‘cartridges’ that contain the required materials. Contact lens manufacturers can add this ‘printer’ to their production lines. Several manufacturers have already expressed an interest in the product. LipoCoat’s founder Jasper van Weerd wants to focus on contact lenses initially but hopes to move on to other medical devices. “I would first like to try the coating on catheters, but in the long-term I can see it being used to make implants safer too.”
Start-up company LipoCoat is a University of Twente spin-off. The technology is the result of PhD research by Jasper van Weerd, who obtained his doctorate at the university in early 2015, having completed a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. LipoCoat is working closely with Twente’s research institutes MESA+ and MIRA to develop the technology. Earlier this year, the recently founded Dutch Student Investment Fund, run by students of the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences, invested over €40,000 in the company.