20 February 2024
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Part of a triptych of interviews with special startups.
UPyTher (pronounced 'Jupiter') is a contraction of UPy, a special chemical compound and the word therapeutics. We speak with Geert van Almen, CEO of this special startup, which aims to effectively treat peritoneal cancer in the abdominal cavity with an innovative gel.
During the immensely successful 'Level Up' event, investors, startups and people from the high-tech sector of the Brainport region and Brabant came together to inspire each other and expand their network. In this triptych, we speak with three extraordinary startups that made their pitch to possibly go a 'Level up'.
Of course. I'm originally a health scientist myself and got my PhD from Maastricht University. I was interested in business development and that's how I ended up at a group developing new biomedical materials at TU/e. There they had the technical knowledge but lacked medically and biologically trained researchers, so that's how I came to be around. Together with Patricia Dankers and Peter-Paul Fransen, I performed research on drug delivery with those earlier mentioned biomedical materials. We came in contact with a doctor at the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven, specializing in peritoneal cancer, who was looking for a way to allow chemotherapy to be present in the peritoneal cavity longer, after it had been applied there.
'The registration of peritoneal cancer leaves much to be desired because it often develops after metastasis of another cancer. In colon cancer, the percentage with metastases to the peritoneum is around 10% and possibly even higher. A huge number of patients.'
Geert van Almen, CEO UPyTher
From our study of drug delivery materials, we started developing a gel that can be injected into the abdominal cavity. In liquid form it is injected into the abdominal cavity and there it spreads. Then the liquid turns into a soft gel that stays there for several days and administers the chemotherapy. Such a gel can work much more effectively and for a longer period of time than a liquid which only has an effect for one or two hours.
Because we are making a unique crossover between technology and the medical community, we are not the most obvious partner for everyone. But we are looking for people, organizations and companies who want to strengthen us and work together to develop a life-saving drug and take it to market. Moreover, working together in the region has really surprised me in a positive way. I really believe that together you can go further.
Find the other interviews from the triptych of interviews with special startups here.