When Dr. Anthony Brennan was conducting research for the U.S. Navy at the University of Florida, he had no idea that his work with manipulating surface texture in biomaterials would eventually lead to starting a company around the innovation. Sharklet Technologies, a Larta NIH-CAP graduate based in Aurora, Colorado, has taken this technology and moved it several steps forward.
The Company’s signature product, Sharklet, a nontoxic, antimicrobial micro-texture, was inspired by Dr. Brennan’s research of sharkskin. Dr. Brennan observed that, unlike other large, slow-moving sea creatures such as whales, sharks had markedly less bio-fouling due to the texture of their surface skin. Sharklet mimics this defensive surface texture on the Company’s own medical device products.
The need for Sharklet’s signature surface arose from serious problems involving one of the most ubiquitous medical devices: the urinary catheter. It is, of course, the most commonly used and most commonly infected medical device. Other companies have produced antimicrobial drugs to combat catheter infection. Yet, it is abundantly clear that these drugs have not reduced infection rates enough since bacteria are able to colonize outside of the catheter, away from contact with the antimicrobial solution.
“We wanted to bring about a paradigm shift away from the harmful ethos of sterilizing everything,” said Ethan Mann, COO of Sharklet Technologies.
Where others failed, the Sharklet approach succeeded. Sharklet’s drug-free surface material has been proven to reduce both colonization and migration of bacterial infection resulting from medical devices.
Sharklet Technologies’ unique approach and novel innovation caught the eye of Larta Principal Advisor Vivian Dullien, who worked with them during their time in the NIH CAP. Larta, with Dullien leading the FeedForward™ session in Washington, D.C. introduced Sharklet to representatives from the FDA.
“Putting a company on the correct path accelerates regulation by the FDA. Larta helped Sharklet Technologies tell the story of their product to the FDA, making them more appealing to investors and setting them on the least burdensome approval path,” says Dullien.
The successes have only begun to unfurl for Sharklet Technologies. The company was recently acquired by Peaceful Union. This is going to accelerate the development of Sharklet for medical devices, where chemical-free bacterial inhibition is desired in high-touch surfaces prone to bacterial contamination. Sharklet Technologies also intends to accelerate the development of a newly enhanced wound dressing that accelerates healing.