Imagine a world where medication delivery is no longer a hassle, and topical products can be game-changers. This is the vision of Greenville-based life sciences and technology company Zylo, which has licensed the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s next-generation Z-pod technology for sustained topical release.
At the heart of Zylo’s innovation are amorphous silica particles called Z-pods that encapsulate active ingredients. Charged Z-pods can be incorporated into creams, gels, balms or ointments that embed themselves into the top layers of dead skin cells upon application. As a result, they slowly release the active ingredient over time and eventually slough off along with dead skin cells.
This delivery system increases bioavailability, meaning more active agent gets to its intended target. This is a primary goal for both pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic houses alike. The technology has already demonstrated success in treating cutaneous lupus – an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women of color – where AEA-loaded Z-pods significantly reduced lesion count and severity compared to AEA without Z-pods.
Zylo’s CEO and founder Scott Pancoast describes the technology as “a patch without a patch.” Unlike traditional patches that act as reservoirs for active ingredients, Z-pods serve the same purpose without needing to wear, remove or dispose of them.
The company has received multiple grants from organizations such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense to further develop their nitric oxide-based product that has potential applications in treating erectile dysfunction, wound healing, nail fungus and more. They are currently in discussions with cosmetic and drug companies looking to improve their product performance.
One particularly exciting area is hair growth: Over 80% of study subjects with male pattern baldness experienced new hair growth after using a prototype Z-pod-based product for 90 days in one partner-sponsored study. Negotiations are ongoing with several companies with anticipated product launches later this year.
Other products in the pipeline include herbicide-loaded Z-pods for farmers that produce less runoff, CBD-loaded Z-pods for sports performance/recovery and anti-aging, and Z-pods loaded with lemongrass oil that serve as an environmentally safe and longer-lasting mosquito repellent.
Zylo’s valuation has increased from $10 million in 2019 to approximately $23 million in 2022. Pancoast hopes to continue advancing their programs and increasing their valuation tenfold or more.
“As the business founder of the company, this is my baby,” said Pancoast. “The prospects of becoming the next generation of topical drug delivery are high.” But beyond business success, he notes that “our technology can do a lot of good for the world, especially when it comes to lupus, which has such a profound effect on those who suffer from it.”
Sources say, Zylo is hoping to receive a grant from NIH by May to advance their lupus program further.