UZH Life Sciences Fund invests in bioengineered skin

UZH Life Sciences Fund is investing 1 million Swiss francs into the Zurich-based startup CUTISS. The company has developed a technology that makes it possible to bioengineer skin. The personalized skin grafts can help patients such as burn victims.

Image Credit: Wyss Zurich

CUTISS is a spin-off of the University of Zurich (UZH) whose aim is to bring bioengineered skin grafts to the market. Using a novel procedure, the company harvests a postage-stamp-sized biopsy of healthy skin from the patient, which is then bioengineered to create a skin graft some 70 times larger in size. The process takes around one month. 

The skin produced in the lab is elastic and grows with the patient. And in contrast to conventional grafts, it is expected to result in less scarring and provide a significantly better quality of life for patients, according to a UZH statement. The technology can help heal people with skins defects, including burn victims.

UZH Life Sciences Fund is now investing 1 million Swiss francs into CUTISS. The startup plans to use the funds to automate the production process for cultivating skin, which is needed to turn its technology into a marketable product. The technology has already performed well in the first clinical safety trials.

UZH Life Sciences Fund was formed only recently, and CUTISS is the first spinoff it has invested in. The funding for UZH Life Sciences Fund comes equally from the UZH Foundation and the Novartis Venture Fund. The aim is to amass a total of 20 million francs to assist UZH spin-offs in the life sciences and biotechnology.

“It takes a long time to develop marketable applications, especially in the life sciences, and clinical trials are expensive,” said Michael Hengartner, UZH president and a member of the UZH Life Sciences Fund board. “The UZH Life Sciences Fund accelerates the transfer of research findings from UZH into clinical practice, which ultimately benefits patients and the public at large.”

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