Partnering with Rose-Hulman Ventures has on countless occasions proven to be a great way to launch a business or a product. Having all the necessary technical talent on staff can be challenging even for a big company, and an impossibility for a startup.
For a lot of clients, one successful project leads to plans for another. Such is the case for FetTech, a medical device company created to bring healing technologies to market. It’s the brainchild of Clay and Danielle Fette, both of whom have decades of experience in regenerative medicine.
Clay earned chemical engineering bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rose-Hulman, while Danielle is a registered nurse. Their work has revolved around what they refer to as multi-tissue platform technology, or MTP for short, which has potential for healing from a wide range of diseases and wounds.
FetTech reached out to Rose-Hulman Ventures initially for help with their initial StemSys product. It’s a wound powder used to help the body’s own healing capabilities to recover from burns, traumatic injuries, chronic wounds and impacts from surgery. It’s made from multiple extracellular matrix tissue sources, and when used in wound treatment, the product induces the body’s own healing capabilities to repair and regenerate damaged tissue.
What originally brought their enterprise to Rose-Hulman Ventures was the need to prepare animal-based tissue sources for the sterile work of healing humans. “We needed Ventures to design and build a custom piece of equipment, the tissue washer,” according to Clay Fette. “It was challenging in many ways, requiring expertise in a variety of different engineering disciplines: chemical, mechanical, software, etc.”
What the Rose-Hulman Ventures team came up with, essentially a washing machine that automates the decellularization process of removing cells from the source tissue, was a key breakthrough that has helped the company grow. “They invented a machine that can wash the tissue, where it is not done by hand,” he explains.
The resulting StemSys product is FDA-cleared and used in hospitals for treating burns, wounds and other trauma. Clinicians apply the powder, and it triggers the body to heal and regenerate tissue.
“Clay has worked with Rose-Hulman and Rose-Hulman Ventures for years, and has always been more than pleased with the results,” says Juliet Hahn, chief communications officer. “So we keep using them. We are currently refining what we made, evaluating any updates, making additional units to increase production capacity.”
FetTech has found that its multi-tissue platform technology has wide-ranging promise beyond wound healing. A gel formulation has skin recovery and tissue regeneration applications, and there are antiviral properties that could target everything from hepatitis and shingles to COVID.
“Short- and long-term, we have some new projects going with Rose-Hulman Ventures related to our next-generation gel formulations, some three-dimensional constructs such as tubes for vascular and urology applications, and compressible sponges for orthopedic use,” Fette explains. Some of the work could lead to prototyping, process development or equipment manufacturing.
However it proceeds, FetTech is able to tap into multidisciplinary expertise through Rose-Hulman Ventures. And, Fette adds, the young minds of Rose-Hulman Ventures student interns are incredibly valuable, as they proved during the initial work on the tissue washing technology.
“We ran into several obstacles during the project, all of which were overcome by the interns with the guidance of the project managers,” he recalls. “The interns came up with new and creative ways to solve problems, which to me is the most interesting part of the project—seeing these young women and men solving problems in unique ways.”