The inherent properties of silk to stimulate cell migration and proliferation has been found to be directly linked with the accelerated wound healing mechanism. Therefore, the scientific community has been extensively exploring these properties of silk protein in skin regeneration therapeutics. In a detail conversation, Vivek Mishra, Founder, Director & CEO, Fibroheal Woundcare explains the therapeutic properties of silk protein and how his company utilises these properties to innovate wound care products.

“Skin regeneration is indeed a need of the hour for cosmetic and burn surgery. So far we know other silk based formulations are being used in combination with adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells for skin regeneration purposes. In a deeper sense, silk protein is having adequate biocompatibility, cell adhesion, growth and differentiation properties. In addition, silk protein has been a material of choice for formulation of biomaterial for guiding bone tissue and regeneration”, informs Mishra.

Conventional wound healing technologies v/s silk protein technologies

While there have been great advances in silk-based technologies for wound healing applications. Its significance lies in understanding its difference from conventional technologies which are presumed to be low cost.

“Conventionally, silk-based material was used in sutures and scaffolds due to their mechanical integrity and breaking strength. Although used for different applications it was not explored much after regeneration. In recent years processed silk protein is much explored. Regenerated silk protein are been developed in multiple formulations such as nanoparticles, hydrogels, sheets, nanofibers etc., and are experimented for several biomedical applications such as wound healing, tissue reconstruction, epithelial regeneration, corneal wound healing, ophthalmic hydration etc. Newer technologies emphasise its pharmacological activities rather than its activity to support cell growth and skin closure. Recent demonstrations show the use of silk proteins for soft tissue reconstruction, corneal damage, artificial skin and tissue filling material”, Mishra explains.

So since there is much scope for further use of silk proteins in various skin regenerative sciences, Mishra along with his partners and investors- Bharat Tandon, Investor & Director and Subramanian Shivaraman, Investor & Director, Center for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, Bangalore established their business based on creating products using silk proteins

Business built on need gap

Mishra expounds on the rationale behind his business venture. “The need gap which exists in the present market scenario is that more than 85 per cent of medical devices are imported in India. Being the second-largest producer of silk in the world, second most populated in the world and depending solely on imports to cater to various wound healing requirements initiated our thoughts. Silk being the most versatile, perfectly biocompatible material and its abundant availability in Karnataka made it an ideal candidate for our research. Moreover, a lot of research happened at various institution levels on silk as its biomaterial applications. We saw the economic multiplier potential of Silk – farmers, hospitals and patients. All this put together guided us on our path to develop a product which can have a huge economic impact and can bring down imports significantly. Its product performance is much superior to the existing imported and marketed products while being cost-effective”, he maintains.

Well, Mishra’s start-up has government support and is registered under the Start-up India movement. He further explains the support he has received from the government. “We are registered under Startup India, Startup Karnataka programme and this helped us in getting benefits in various Government tenders to get an exemption for a turnover clause for participation. With this, we are also able to get our company and products listed on GeM (Govt. e-marketplace). Additionally, the Dept of Biotech, Govt of India through BIRAC has supported us in a lot of initiatives. We were also winners of the ELEVATE 100, 2019 organised by Startup Karnataka under the Dept of IT, BT & ST, Govt of Karnataka as one of the most innovative biotech startups and got R&D grant to support our research. CCAMP under a BIRAC programme has supported us through LEAP (Launching Entrepreneurs for Affordable Products) scheme.”

Interesting Fibroheal also has a patent for their product “We have two patents in hand. Once the idea was stabilised and we saw value in our research, we filed a provisional patent and followed it by filing a Final patent. We follow stringent QA / QC norms as per MDR 2017 (Medical Devices Rule 2017), under CDSCO. Our facility is now ISO 13485 compliant.

More so, Fibroheal’s research is supported by CCAMP- Centre for cellular and molecular platforms an initiative of Dept of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt of India that acts as an enabler of cutting-edge life science research and innovation.

C-CAMP help them with network connects, they have an amazing wet lab facility to support research and it is one of the foremost deep-tech supporting players for innovative startups, mentions Mishra. “C-CAMP saw value in us and has invested and bought equity in our company through the LEAP scheme of BIRAC, which makes us believe that we are in the right research direction. With the support of DBT – Govt. of India, BIRAC, C-CAMP and Dept. of IT, BT & ST, GoK, we look forward to making a difference in wound management while offering economic multiplier potential to many”, he adds.

Another interesting aspect of this start-up is that despite the pandemic crisis, their business has received a welcoming response from the medical fraternity. While they did witness an initial glitch during the lockdown as every other healthcare company did, but they are already on the path to recovery. This makes them a good example of start-ups that are based on sustainable business models and a good plan to scale in future.

Going forward, Mishra informs that a few newer concept-based products are in the pipeline which they aim to launch by 2021. Additionally, the company is in the process of getting CE approval for its product range. Post CE certification, they plan to expand their business in the international market.

USP of the company: They are one among the few companies working across the globe on this versatile biomaterial called silk proteins. They have indigenously developed patented technological products in our basket catering to advance wound care management. Their research work is well appreciated by the government and supported by Grants and Awards. Fibroheal offers affordable and cost-effective solutions for wound management. They have successfully launched 9 products in the market which are used by renowned surgeons and doctors in more than top 50 major reputed hospitals across India.

Turn over in recent times: Fibroheal has treated more than 25000 patients and since inception (i.e 2017). Their turnover is 4+ Crore, including 2+ Crore in last FY 2019-2020

Major competitor: 3M, Smith & Nephew, Convatec, Colloplast, KCI, J&J, Molnlycke Health Care, Hollister etc.

The value proposition to the customers : 
1.The indigenously developed solution for wound healing (Natural biomaterial, bio-compatible and safe)
2.Aids faster healing & wound closure
3. Significant reduction in the cost of treatment for patients  
4. Offers Scar reduction while participating in active healing
5. Faster turn-around rates and the decreased load on hospitals
6. Improves the quality of life of people post healing
7. Affordable and easily accessible

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