DermaClip Ramps Up for U.S. Sales Push of Wound-Healing Device

Houston—Sutures or staples are the norm to close deep wounds that won’t otherwise heal on their own. But a Houston medtech company says it has a better way.

DermaClip makes an eponymous device that the company says is a non-invasive way to foster wound healing. The DermaClip device is an adhesive strip placed across a wound. (Typically, several are used on each wound.) Polypropylene tabs on each side of the strip are then pulled in opposing directions until the device locks in such a way that the two sides of the wound bind together in an upward motion. DermaClip says that upward connection of wound edges promotes healing and reduces scarring.

“The live portion of the skin goes against the other live part of the skin on the other side of the wound,” says Charles Darling, DermaClip’s CEO. “This allows the capillaries to rejoin much quicker, the blood flow to be restored, bringing oxygen, and minimizing collagen formation, which is what causes scarring.”

Darling says the device has been used in a variety of procedures, including those in plastic surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, and pediatrics.

The company is among a handful seeking to provide alternatives to sutures and staples, which have long been used to close wounds. California-based Zipline also makes an adhesive device. As my colleague Xconomy’s San Francisco editor Bernadette Tansey has reported, Zipline is made up of two Band-aid-like strips that surgeons apply on either side of an incision, parallel to the cut.

The two sticky strips are connected across the incision’s opening by a series of thin plastic ties, which each have a small ring at one end. To bring the edges of the incision together, surgeons pull on the rings of each of the plastic cords, which are studded with little bumps that prevent that ratchet through small clips. Once the cords are tightened, the bumps prevent them from slipping back through the clips.

In June, Zipline closed $9 million in funding in a round led by earlier backer MVM Life Science Partners, with HighCape Partners and Bridge Bank also participating.

DermaClip has so far been funded through its holding company DQ Holdings, a Houston firm whose other investments include energy, real estate, and consulting companies in the U.S. and China. But Darling says he expects to seek outside investment this year to scale up manufacturing and marketing in the U.S.

The U.S. push comes after DermaClip decided last year to move manufacturing facilities stateside from China, where it first sold the device.

The DermaClip technology was developed at MIT almost a decade ago by two cardiovascular surgeons and an engineer as part of a business school project and Darling said he met them in 2011. He formed DermaClip as a company and acquired the rights to commercialize the technology in China, where it was able to sell the device in 2014 after receiving regulatory approval. All in all, Darling says DermaClip has been used in around 100,000 procedures there.

The device has since been registered with the FDA as a Class 1 product, the lowest-risk category for medical devices. As such, DermaClip does not need FDA clearance to sell its device on the market. DermaClip sells its device to doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, and hospitals both directly and through distributors.

Darling says he had hoped to have U.S. production already up and running, but now expect the facilities to be open by this March. “We thought we had plenty of product through construction, but we ran out,” Darling says. “We hope to be back to supplying customers soon.”

The move to the U.S. will mean both faster turnaround times for domestic orders and enables the company to sell the device to the U.S. military. “Once we have qualifying production (in the U.S.), we can” pursue that market,” he says. “The [Veterans Administration] is waiting for us to do a study in one of their hospitals to qualify to sell to the VA system.”

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