French wound-closure startup with a $10.8M Series A is latest project by Robert Langer

MIT scientist and entrepreneur Robert Langer is co-founding yet another new med tech company, this time in France. Gecko Biomedical debuts with nearly $11 million in Series A financing, focused on a light-activated, biodegradable, non-toxic adhesive designed to close wounds inside the body.

"We are proud to see that, through this financing, the innovation born within our laboratories can now be translated into innovative solutions designed to improve patient outcomes and potentially reset the practice of minimally invasive surgery," Langer said in a statement.

Omnes Capital and CM-CIC Capital Finance co-led the $10.8 million round, which also included CapDecisif Management. Plans call for putting the money to work advancing Gecko's development work, with an eye on a CE mark to use the adhesive in vascular reconstruction by the end of 2015. Researchers will also test the adhesive in minimally invasive surgeries. A U.S. development and regulatory strategy is underway and will commence behind the European Union development plan, the company said.

Gecko's core technology represents a pretty neat advance in the wound closer space. As envisioned, a surgeon uses light to trigger biodegradable, non-toxic liquid film or patches to bind to tissue and close wounds inside the body. Early testing has shown major promise.

Langer, who will serve as scientific advisor of the company, is part of a multifaceted founding team. Jeff Karp, an expert in bioengineering and regenerative medicine and a researcher at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, also helped launch Gecko, and will advise the company and serve on its board. Bernard Gilly additionally worked to launch Gecko; he's an executive who formed iBionext Network in 2012 to link academic experts and entrepreneurs together toward developing disruptive technologies to help patients. As well, Jacques Marescaux, an innovator in minimally invasive surgical techniques from the Institute of Research Against Digestive Cancer in Strasbourg, France, also joined the founding team, the company said.

Founding CEO Christophe Bancel (also a member of the iBionext Network) explained to FierceMedicalDevices via email that Langer, Karp and Gilly have known each other for a while and "have been looking for opportunities to work together" when the wound-closure technology presented an opportunity.

"The potential of the technology/science was identified at an early stage but required additional expertise to translate that into a business opportunity," Bancel said.

Advances in wound closure represent a significant opportunity. According to Gecko, the market segment is already worth $11 billion and is expected to grow 7% annually in the coming years. Where Gecko comes in is within the adhesives and sealants segment of the broader market. Right now, that segment generates $1.9 billion, about 20% of overall wound-closure-related global sales, but that number will increase by 45% from 2011-2015, according to estimates cited by the company.

"This is an area of huge importance that has seen minimal innovation in recent years and where we still use sutures and staples, which have many inherent limitations," Langer explained.

Why is a Langer company launching in France this time? Bancel noted that all funding came from French firms, and that "the regulatory environment in the EU is conducive to med tech development, innovation in this area is strong in France, and [Marescaux] has a great clinical development track record."

- read the release