Sutures and staples are the usual options for closing wounds postoperatively, but they can be painful and require surgical skills. The microMend Skin Closure Device, produced by Seattle-based KitoTech Medical, provides a potentially better alternative.
The design of the microMend is conceptually similar to a bandage, like Steri-Strip. The device is made of a thin adhesive backing with two arrays of tiny “microstaples” on either side. It is placed across a wound, one side at a time, so that the microstaples can insert into the skin and align the two edges of a wound. The device is flexible enough to allow conformity to a patient’s movements, and it has a holding strength similar to that of sutures. The microstaples are supposedly painless, and the device can last for as long as it takes for the wound to heal.
The concept was first envisioned by Dr. Ron Berenson, a medical doctor by training and a biotech and medical device entrepreneur for more than 25 years. He was serving as entrepreneur-in-residence at University of Washington’s innovation hub in 2012. While there, he was inspired by UW professor Dr. Marco Rolandi, who was working on a project using tiny chitosan microneedles to heal wounds. “Although we ended up using metal rather than chitosan, Dr. Rolandi’s research got me thinking about the use of microneedles to close wounds,” says Berenson. KitoTech Medical was incorporated later that year, with Berenson as CEO, and research began in earnest.
Since then, the company has finalized its design, found manufacturing partners, and completed initial clinical studies with promising results. The company is currently overseeing more clinical studies with about a dozen physicians across several medical specialties, to generate more data on how microMend compares to sutures and staples.
For the patient, microMend confers many advantages. Its tensile strength is almost the same as sutures, but it can close wounds two to three times faster. It leaves a much smaller scar than do sutures or staples. The two-millimeter spacing between each microstaple maintains an even distribution of tension that reduces inflammation and scarring, and provides a more effective barrier that protects the patient from infection.
microMend has advantages for physicians as well. Its easy application results in fewer needle sticks and requires minimal training to use. Simple removal by patients means fewer return office visits, which are typically not reimbursed. Furthermore, as Berenson notes, “it is as easy and intuitive to put on as a bandage,” making it a time-saving and less expensive approach that could enable a physician to see more patients.
KitoTech Medical is initially focusing on microMend’s use in dermatologic and plastic surgeries, where speed and cosmetic results are especially important. However, Berenson is quick to point out a wide range of potential applications, including in emergency settings, or vascular, spinal, and laparoscopic surgeries. Its uses may even extend across the broader wound care spectrum; ongoing clinical studies show that its relatively gentle tension can make it effective for closing wounds in the elderly and for more serious avulsion injuries, where skin is often too fragile to suture.
Recently, the device was introduced at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, where it was met with enthusiasm by attending doctors. The team has numerous clinical studies and case studies lined up, and physicians across various specialties are beginning to use microMend.
“Its simplicity is deceptive,” Berenson says. “In fact, the design and development process took years.” And that work is paying off – if initial market reception is any indication, microMend is on its way to becoming a major player in the landscape of wound closure products.
To learn more, check out microMend’s website…