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GATT: from backyard to Novio Tech Campus

If only his office were a little bigger, says Founder and Chief Technology Officer Johan Bender of GATT jokingly about their new place of business on the Novio Tech Campus. But fortunately, the tailormade on-campus clean rooms more than make up for it. His biotech company has an ambitious goal: shaking up the market with their game changing hemostatic patch for controlling severe bleedings in general surgery.

Surgical bleeding still poses a big challenge in every operating room. Traditional methods to treat bleeding include applying pressure or suturing. If these options fail, surgeons use hemostats and sealants. However, the existing solutions have low adhesion and require long pressure time. Now, GATT Technologies has aimed to be the next frontier in the global market of hemostats and sealants with their platform.

Backyard innovation

Currently, GATT focuses on clinical trials with the GATT-Patch, their launching product. This fast hemostatic sealing patch is based on the patented technology and is able to control severe surgical bleedings as well as prevent and treat organ leakage. “Our trials start in April, in Groningen, Rotterdam en Nijmegen”, Johan says. “And that’s a special moment for us. I remember very well when I first thought of this idea in my backyard on December 21st 2009 at 2.30 in the afternoon. And look at our project now: it is about to be used to treat humans for the very first time.”

On the uniqueness of their product, Johan elaborates: “Our innovate patch uses a synthetic polymer for hemostatic sealing during surgery. It is the first product based on the patented NHS-POx technology, allowing surgeons to stop a bleed not only faster, but also create a stronger sealing result. Moreover, the patch is more cost effective to produce than other fibrin-based and synthetic hemostats.”

Sticky molecules

GATT is one of the latest residents at the Novio Tech Campus in Nijmegen. In October, the biotech company moved from Radboudumc onto the campus. Johan Bender founded the company in 2011 and now focuses on the research and development and application of the GATT products. He studied pharmacy at Utrecht University and worked for five years in R&D for major companies. He was managing director of Bactimm and as of 2002 co-owner of Bactimm/Farmalyse, both contract service providers for the pharmaceutical industry. His cannabinoid research with Leiden University stood at the base of the technology GATT is using today.”

While studying medicinal effects of plants at the lab, Johan’s team found a polymer  (a material consisting of very large molecules) that was exceptionally sticky. “Everyone was complaining about the stickiness. But the only thing I could think of, was: how does this work? And how can I make a good use out of it?” He joined forces with Professor Jan van Hest to figure out the chemistry behind his idea. “We created activated polyoxazoline: a polymer that has excellent hemostatic and sealing characteristics when it encounters fluids. Like blood, for example.”

Platform

From their new location at Novio Tech Campus, GATT will keep working on their launching product. Additionally, the company is further developing and finetuning its other products including powder, tape, and gels. For instance, GATT is developing a powder application for use in laparoscopic or robotic settings and a spray that can be used as a sealant in, for example, lung procedures. The tape they’re developing will prevent intestinal leakage. Johan: “Our goal is to start a platform that launches a new product every two years or so.  But first, we focus on the patch.”

No-brainer

GATT found in Novio Tech Campus the perfect place to continue developing their innovations. Johan: “When Radboudumc could not provide the clean rooms GATT needed, moving the company to Novio Tech Campus was a no-brainer. We knew the campus would fit our needs. Thanks to my connections in the Nijmegen region, we were already acquainted with the type of cleanrooms they have here, and that they would more than sufficient. What’s more, we like everything this campus has to offer. With the construction plans for a new research-building on the way, we finally feel we can build a future proof company. Maybe one day, I can again move back into a bigger office”, he laughs.

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