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MPC Polymers Mimic Biomembranes to Merge Man and Machine for Higher PerformanceIntelligent Surfaces Inc.

2018.09.11

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CEO Yoshihiro Kiritoshi at Todai Kashiwa Venture Plaza, home of Intelligent Surfaces, Inc

Points to be noted

  • Focus on MPC polymer technology development and provide custom structures according to purpose
  • Use medical equipment to contribute to the extension of healthy life expectancy
  • Begin with medical equipment as a base, then expand into industrial application

Intelligent Surfaces, Inc. is a Tokyo University-adjacent venture company that develops MPC polymers, a biomimetic technology with huge possibilities. Their office is located inside the Todai Kashiwa Venture Plaza, an independent incubation facility run by SME Support, JAPAN (SMRJ) near the Tokyo University Kashiwa Campus. Intelligent Surfaces works on MPC polymer technology development for making this artificial surface material perform as a naturally forming, highly functional surface coating for medical equipment and industrial products to help realize a future society where man and machine are fused in a highly functional manner. We talked to CEO Yoshihiro Kiritoshi about the core of his work, pioneering bio-interface MPC polymers.

Over 40 years have passed since MPC polymers were first used as a biocompatible material as part of the basic research of Professor Nobuo Nakabayashi (currently an honorary professor) at Tokyo Medical and Dental University. A few years later, MPC polymers were already causing a breakthrough revolution in the medical field, but the lab’s annual synthesis volume in 1977 was tiny: output was less than 1g. Eventually, his assistant Kazuhiko Ishihara (current professor at Tokyo University) successfully created a small volume synthesis method, and continued his research in partnership with a large company which received a grant from the Commissioned Development Fund, finally finding a successful method for high-volume production of MPC polymers.

Factory production was now possible, but further improvements were still required before MPC polymers could penetrate a wider range of medical applications. In methods used up until now, artificial MPC polymer surface coatings would separate from the base material under high stress.

Previous MPC polymer processing methods would still fall apart under high stress

Intelligent Surfaces rearranged MPC polymer structure into a new molecular design to invent a new level of MPC polymers with more than 100x durability and long-lasting adhesiveness. This new processing method is also highly compatible with base materials like glass, titanium, stainless steel and aluminum - and the significant innovations in durability and adhesiveness allow it to be firmly affixed to these base materials. Intelligent Surface’s biggest strength is the capability to rapidly respond and create customized MPC polymers according to each base material’s surface and purpose.

Intelligent Surface’s innovative processing method allows for firm attachment to the base

In addition to biocompatibility, MPC polymers are also ideal for medical equipment thanks to their non-fouling, non-fogging, lubricity and other special properties. Development is underway to apply MPC polymers to a variety of medical equipment, from common tools like surgical scissors and scalpels to medically managed devices like dental braces. Collaborations with companies to create marketable products are also progressing steadily.

There are also collaborative projects with the nearby National Cancer Center Hospital East and medical equipment manufacturers to develop products to solve specific issues: the lenses of laparoscopic cameras are fogging up during surgery, causing time loss and doctor frustration. This fog is caused by moisture inside the body and oil mist from thermal procedures using an electric scalpel. One anti-fogging solution is coating the laparoscopic lens with MPC polymers. This coating has already been proven effective in surgical experiments using pigs, and is now in the product development phase.

Untreated lenses turn foggy, causing delays during surgery

MPC polymer coating on laparoscopic lens prevents fogging during surgery

Utilizing MPC polymers for medical equipment will have huge benefits including technological advancement that will improve the work performance of doctors and medical professionals, and reducing the patient’s burden during surgery and treatment.

The application of MPC polymers in medical equipment is obvious, and the potential in other fields continues to grow.. Household environments like the kitchen and bathroom are ideal applications for the non-fouling and superhydrophilic properties of MPC polymers. Likewise, industrial applications are also gaining attention, such as improving maintenance by coating pipes in food and drink manufacturing equipment systems.
Aquaculture facilities are also using MPC polymers to defeat barnacle adhesion, thanks to the proven effectiveness on coatings on a large variety of base materials.

Intelligent Surface’s strength is the ability to customize MPC polymers for specific purposes - this pioneering biointerface material has limitless potential that is yet to be revealed.
Their business model is to gain attention for the core of their work: developing new technologies for molecular planning and polymer synthesis. Raw materials are purchased through their suppliers, and business development is based on an asset light model. Other sources of income are collaborations with other companies like medical equipment manufacturers and industrial partners to build a sales structure. These connections will allow Intelligent Surfaces to expand their business steadily.

More business opportunities are coming. Intelligent Surfaces has been approached at tradeshows about matching with other companies, and is receiving inquiries through the investment company Real Tech Fund. With nearly 50 current direct partnerships with other companies, we can expect great business growth.
Intelligent Surface’s innovative processing unlocked new applications for the pre-established field of MPC polymers. They will continue pioneering new paths as an R&D venture business, together with their corporate and medical partners.

Interview Date: August 23, 2018

 

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Our aim is to perform surface reforming of medical instruments using the highly biocompatible MPC polymer. Besides MPC polymer's original properties of being protein non-adsorptive, superhydrophilicity and lubricity, it also shows anti-fogging and self-cleaning capabilities, so it is used in a wide variety of general purpose products. We are developing materials that are bio-friendly, as well as gentle on our lives and the environment.

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