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This bandage saves lives — and is a money-spinner too

TV Jayan | Updated on April 27, 2018

Leo Mavely

Axiostat taps natural polymer chitosan, found in shrimp shells, to stop bleeding

A workable innovative idea is a hallway to success. Leo Mavely, the young founder and Chief Executive of Bengaluru-based Axio Biosolutions, hit upon his Eureka moment about a decade ago as an undergraduate at Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak (Haryana).

Mavely, a first-generation entrepreneur hailing from Kerala, not only felt saddened by the large number of people losing their lives in road accidents but also smelt a business opportunity. If there is a product that can instantly stop the bleeding, many accident victims could be saved, he thought.

With a grounding in applied biotechnology, he zeroed in on natural polymer, chitosan, found in shrimp shells. Ten years later, his bleed-stopping bandage Axiostat is used by 110 battalions in the country, besides other combat forces in the world.

“Ours is the world’s first 100 per cent chitosan product. Unlike other chitosan haemostats in the market, which are either in powder form or powder coated onto a gauze form, Axiostat is a 100 per cent chitosan-based haemostatic dressing. The uniqueness of Axiostat lies in its robust, microporous interconnected structure, which is made using a highly complex manufacturing technique,” says Mavely, whose company raised a second round of funding of $7.4 million (₹47 crore from Ratan Tata’s RNT Capital Advisors and others.) Other investors in the company are Accel Partners and IDG Ventures.

Explaining the uniqueness of his proprietary wound-care product, the 32-year-old Mavely says, “We try to exploit the properties of this natural polymer and accelerate its properties by our proprietary process. The haemostat has been created with high positive charge. Though it looks like a dry sponge, when it comes in contact with blood, it becomes extremely sticky and stops bleeding within no time. That is because blood carries a negative charge.”

Besides its quick blood-clotting property, what endeared it to doctors working with the Army and paramilitary forces is the ease with which it can be removed from the wound site. “When water is applied to the wound, it becomes a gel-like substance that can be washed away easily,” he explains.

Axio Biosolutions’ breakthrough came in 2013, when paramilitary forces fighting left-wing extremists in Chhattisgarh used it for the first time. There was no looking back as by then they received regulatory clearances, including that for the European Union. Recent regulatory approvals in the US will help sell it as an over-the-counter product, he says. Chitosan is an abundantly available biopolymer but the company sources it from approved vendors who follow stringent quality control, says Mavely.

Axiostat has several variants. While the premium one is used in the defence services and conflict-prone regions, local corporate hospitals use another variant for stopping blood flow after angioplasty sheath removal.

Another type finds use in dental surgeries. Besides, the firm is developing new designs of the patented product that may get placed in first-aid kits in vehicles. “Many two-wheeler and four-wheeler manufacturers in the country have evinced interest in having it in first-aid kits supplied with the vehicles,” Mavely says.

Published on April 27, 2018

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