Tech startup: Bio-intervention Specialists
COMPANY: Bio-Intervention Specialists (a dba for Aion Partners LLC)
INITIAL LIGHT BULB: In the fall of 2008, longtime health-care executive and consultant Tom Boyer connected with Mike Peters and Dave Faulder of Bailey-based Strategic Resource Optimization.
“They explained to me this disinfecting technology they had developed for use in the Rocky Flats cleanup,” Boyer says. “My reaction was, ‘What are you guys doing in health care?’ The answer at the time was, ‘Nothing.'”
Boyer quickly set out to change that. “I thought this could be a transformative technology for disinfecting in health care,” he says. He negotiated a 25-year license with Strategic Resource Optimization to use the technology in health care and founded Bio-Intervention Specialists (Bio-IS) with three partners in early 2009.
IN A NUTSHELL: Dubbed Electro-BioCide, Bio-IS’s technology holds the promise of revolutionizing the disinfection of hospitals and other health-care facilities.
The industry’s status quo is “the four horsemen of disinfectants: bleach, quaternary ammonia, peroxide and peracetic acid,” says Boyer, now the company’s CEO. “They make up 95 percent of all the disinfectants in use today. They basically poison the organism to death.” The problem: “Because of the power of mother nature to mutate, if you do not entirely poison that organism, the organism can learn to survive against that substance.”
Some microbes have mutated to feed on ammonia, Boyer adds. “We have a tsunami of infectious disease that is beginning to show up that human beings have no defense against.” Some of the most prevalent of such diseases are hospital-acquired infections such as “superbug” MRSA; the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.7 million people are infected per year, 100,000 of whom will die from it.
“That’s more deaths than breast cancer, car accidents and AIDS combined,” Boyer says. “And we’re disinfecting the same way today as we did it in 1972.”
Instead of merely poisoning the organism, Electr-BioCide, now approved for use in more than 35 states, kills microbes with physics, not chemistry. “It pulls electrons out of the cell wall, literally shorting the microbe out,” Boyer says. “It basically implodes due to an electric shock.” Clinical tests have demonstrated complete kills of such microorganisms as MRSA, HIV, hepatitis and H1N1.
The technology is based on notoriously unstable chlorine dioxide, for which SRO developed a new patent-pending manufacturing process that expanded its shelf life from hours to months. The compound is nontoxic and noncorrosive.
Using trained teams with electrostatic sprayers that Boyer describes as “a 21st-century spray bottle” that get much better coverage than the usual janitor-and-a-rag method, Bio-IS can staff a health-care facility or offer emergency response services when infections spike for about $60,000 a week, a sound investment considering one hospital-acquired infection can cost a facility $60,000.
Dr. Carolyn Tilquist, who is leading a study of Bio-IS’s technology at Craig Hospital in Englewood, is bullish on the concept. “(Hospital-acquired infections) are getting worse, and they’re getting scarier,” she says. “We need something new.”
THE MARKET: As hospital-acquired infections cost the U.S. health-care industry a staggering $30 billion annually, Bio-IS’s potential market is vast – essentially every hospital in the country.
FINANCING: Bio-IS has closed three separate rounds of financing to date totaling $1.5 million from private investors. Another round is in the works for 2011; Boyer expects to close in Q1 or Q2.
“Existing chemistry textbooks will tell you it’s impossible. Ph.D.s in chemistry tell me I’m lying. It’s almost too good to be true. How could something less toxic than toothpaste kill all these organisms?”- Bio-IS CEO Tom Boyer
where: centennial | FOUNDED: january 2009 | www.bio-intervention.com