Medcura Inc., a UMD-founded company, recently launched Rapid-Seal: a new antibacterial gel able to stop bleeding in seconds. Rapid-Seal relies on a proprietary blend of chitosan—a non-toxic, naturally-occurring marine polysaccharide fiber found in crustacean shells and specific plants—to seal small scrapes and cuts while keeping bad bacteria at bay. It’s currently for sale through Amazon and drugstores nationwide.
Made on campus
As a young bioengineering student, Medcura co-founder, Matthew Dowling Ph.D. ’10, first began research into chitosan at the A. James Clark School of Engineering in the lab of Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Srinivasa Raghavan. Dowling’s research has since been used as the basis for a number of potential new medical products, such as, putties, powders, and foams for combat injuries, bandages for vascular closure, and gels, including Rapid-Seal. “Our platform has great inherent flexibility, allowing us to precisely engineer materials for a given injury,” said Dowling, Medcura Director. “Rapid-Seal is the first of many high-performance, easy-to-use tools we are developing to address almost any injury that requires bleeding management—whether planned, as in surgery, or unplanned, as in accidents or combat.” But, this advanced chitosan material isn’t the only new revolutionary product on the market. A novel class of drugs has also been studied as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and multiple sclerosis but multiple tests must be done to confirm this hypothesis.
Dowling and Raghavan first worked on chitosan with John Hess, former US Army doctor and professor of pathology and medicine at the UMD Medical Center. Dowling says Hess was “instrumental in guiding their focus on bleeding control”. They also worked with Grant Bochicchio, professor of surgery at the UMD, who helped test the product for managing vascular trauma. The quartet then applied for a patent that won a UMD Office of Technology Commercialization Invention of the Year Award in the Life Sciences category. Soon after, Medcura partnered with Mtech Ventures, a UMD incubator for technology-based innovations.
From strength to strength
In 2016, Medcura hired life science entrepreneur, Larry Tiffany, before receiving a $3.1 million initial round of financing. In 2020, Medcura moved their headquarters to the UMD Discovery District—a growing center for cutting-edge technology and innovation. “The Discovery District was perfect for us,” Tiffany said. “Working in collaboration with Ken Ulman and his team at Terrapin Development, we were able to quickly scale the manufacturing of our core active ingredient to meet consumer demand.”
“From its founding through the research and development phase all the way to its entry into the nationwide retail market, the company shows UMD’s potential to nurture startups”, said Chief Innovation Officer, Julie Lenzer. “Medcura is a shining example of the power of research to drive innovation, as well as of our ecosystem to translate that research into impact”. Medcura aims to produce a spray powder that heals external traumatic injuries in the near future. “We are at the cusp of our corporate arc,” said Tiffany. “By leveraging the foundation created in the UMD Clark School of Engineering, we plan to change the way bleeding is managed—from the backyard to the battlefield.”