Israel’s Juvenis offers doctors a unique ‘artificial fat’ compound for rebuilding or smoothing out large areas of tissue altered by medical procedures.
When a person undergoes a major medical procedure – breast surgery, facial reconstruction or even liposuction — the face- or body-altering aftermath often takes a serious emotional toll even when the treatment is successful from a medical point of view.
Enter Israel’s Juvenis. The company’s Tenergel product was developed to let plastic surgeons more easily and inexpensively fill in or smooth out areas that were cut away by the scalpel.
Juvenis is a very safe form of “artificial fat,” says company CEO Dan Touitou. “Tenergel is a unique compound polymer in gel form that is perfect for filling large volumes, such as breast augmentation reconstruction or facial reconstruction.”
In addition, he says, Tenergel can be used to smooth out the appearance of the skin after liposuction and to “firm up” difficult-to-treat areas such as the buttocks, as well as many other applications.
The best part of Tenergel, says Touitou, is what it’s made of – organic materials including castor oil and citric acid. Both are considered foods by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have long been approved for use intravenously. Though Tenergel still needs FDA approval for medical use, Touitou does not anticipate any problem with the approval process, since the product’s ingredients are safe and well-known.
Another advantage of Tenergel is its durability.
“Nearly all of the filler products on the market today require an almost complete reapplication after a period of time,” Touitou says. For example, valoneic acid dilactone (VAD), used in lip reconstruction, is quite expensive – and almost completely disappears in a half year. Based on extensive animal studies Juvenis has conducted, Tenergel normally shows just a 20 percent reduction in the same amount of time.
“Besides, only Tenergel is suitable for large volume application, unlike VAD and other popular materials used by plastic surgeons,” Touitou adds.
In fact, there is only one other product on the market that could be considered a competitor for Tenergel, made by a Dutch company, Touitou says – and this product is more expensive and lasts for far less time than Tenergel. Injectable and affordable, Tenergel can be applied on an outpatient basis, and is scar free. Plus, says Touitou, it is the only product that “feels” right, like natural tissue.
A revolution in plastic surgery
Breast augmentation, one of the many plastic surgery procedures where Juvenis could find a large demand for its product, is the number one aesthetic surgery procedure in the world. It accounts for 17 percent of all surgical procedures. In 2009, for example, more than 1.9 million breast augmentation surgeries were performed across the globe, mostly in China (222,000), the United States (204,000), Brazil (173,000) and Europe (150,000). At an average cost of $5,000 per procedure, the total amount spent is more than $9.5 billion.
Established in 2008, Juvenis is located in Misgav, in northern Israel, and is a part of the Misgav Venture Accelerator. Along with Touitou, who has worked in the commercial pharmaceuticals business for years, the company is led by co-founders Prof. Abraham Domb, head of the forensic sciences division of the Israel Police, and Dr. Lior Yankelson, who has established a number of medical startups in the past.
The company, which holds several patents, expects to start clinical trials in the next month or two, and is aiming for European Union approval by next year.
“Tenergel is inexpensive, long-lasting, and large-volume — the only product on the market with all three characteristics,” says Toutiou. “This could be a real revolution in plastic surgery.”