Mesosil secures $2.2 million to develop infection-fighting biomaterials for medical devices

An electron microscope image of Mesosil's antimicrobial silica powder at 80,000x magnification.
GreenSky-backed University of Toronto spinout has set its initial sights on dentistry.

Toronto-based nanotechnology startup Mesosil has closed $2.2 million CAD in seed funding to ramp up its production and fuel its commercialization plans.

Spun out of the University of Toronto, Mesosil is developing nanometre-scale, silica-based additives designed to prevent infection and disease at the tissue-biomaterial level and extend the lifespan of dental and medical devices like fillers and implants.

After years of research and development, Mesosil has finalized its flagship material and the startup says it is ready to scale up production to meet customer demand in the dentistry space with fresh funding from deep tech-focused GreenSky Capital and a group of other investors.

GreenSky managing partner Marian Hoffmann described Mesosil’s progress to date as “extremely fast and capital-efficient” for a deep-tech, advanced materials company.

“We have a core product we’re very happy with and we want to get [it] out the door as soon as possible,” Mesosil founder and CEO Cameron Stewart told BetaKit in an exclusive interview.

Mesosil’s equity seed round closed in May and was led by GreenSky with support from fellow new investors Greyhill Ventures, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, and existing backers Archangel Network, NorthSpring Capital Partners, and undisclosed angels. This capital brings Mesosil’s total funding to nearly $3.1 million. 

Mesosil has been developing a material that aims to reduce infections resulting from dental fillings and other implants. “Anytime you have a foreign material in the human body, whether it’s a dental filling or a hip replacement or any kind of implant, you create this boundary between material and tissue that ends up being the perfect little niche for bacteria to get inside and colonize and start causing infection,”  Stewart explained.

In dentistry, this can lead to a root infection or cavity next to an existing filling that necessitates additional dental care. In orthopedics, it can result in a bone infection that requires surgery to address, Stewart noted.

Materials like dental fillings are supposed to last a patient’s entire life, but are constantly exposed to bacteria and frequently fail within the first five years post-placement, Stewart said. “If we can add something like a silica particle that’s antimicrobial to [fillings], and give them the ability to fight back and preserve themselves, that’s a huge potential advantage,” he said.

Enter Mesosil, which has developed a tiny, “self-assembled, hard materials sponge” filled with an antimicrobial drug designed to be released very slowly over a long period to kill bacteria, prevent disease, and ensure dental fillings and other implants last longer.

Born in 2015 out of Stewart’s master’s and PhD work on a grant-funded research project at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry, Mesosil filed its first patent in 2017 and spun out as an independent business in 2018. The startup began attracting interest from industry players in 2019, but was slowed by the advent of COVID-19 in 2020, Stewart said. Things picked back up for Mesosil in 2021, and the company set out to raise a pre-seed round.

Mesosil founder and CEO Cameron Stewart and some other members of the startup’s team.

GreenSky first met Mesosil around then and was impressed, but ultimately passed because Mesosil was early in the commercialization process, GreenSky managing partner Marian Hoffmann told BetaKit. Since that meeting, she said Mesosil hit some “meaningful milestones.”

“Mesosil secured the ownership of its intellectual property (IP) from the University of Toronto, has developed new IP, and has worked on scaling up its nanomaterial manufacturing,” Hoffmann said. “Mesosil has cleared its path to market, built out a pipeline of commercial customers in the dental space, and secured a partnership with a global dental [original equipment manufacturer].”

This progress drew GreenSky to invest. “They have overcome the technical risk of their solution and demonstrated product-market fit in the span of five years,” Hoffmann said. “As a deep tech, advanced materials company, that is an extremely fast and capital-efficient process to get to market, and we are excited to be next to [Stewart] for its next phase of growth.”

RELATED: GreenSky expands team, secures $17-million first close of Fund V as firm sees opportunity amid the downturn

Stewart said Mesosil wanted a local investor to lead its seed round and was attracted to GreenSky’s track record in the chemical additive space, where it has worked with firms in biotech and medtech. “There’s a confluence of experience there that I think made it a good fit,” he said. The CEO declined to disclose Mesosil’s valuation but claimed that the startup’s latest financing was an up-round relative to its pre-seed funding in 2021.

Mesosil is currently working with companies in the professional dental space in the United States and Europe to develop solutions for materials in dentistry that fight back against infection. 

Hoffmann claimed that Mesosil’s product has “the longest-releasing effect in the market” and is unique relative to competitors in terms of providing both biodegradation prevention and antimicrobial properties. Another advantage, she noted, is its compatibility with existing dental filling formulations.

“We’re following a lot of similar technologies that maybe started their life … in the dentistry space and graduated up to orthopedics once they’ve been proven.”

Cameron Stewart, Mesosil

In addition to dental fillings and implants, Hoffman said that Mesosil’s solution could be applied to bone cement and antifouling coatings. Over the longer term, Stewart also sees potential orthopedic, other medical, and even some industrial applications for Mesosil’s tech.

Stewart noted that Mesosil’s initial target market is dentistry because the use case is clear and the risk is lower than in orthopedics, adding that problems in a patient’s mouth are easier to treat than issues in their knee.

The dental space also has a lower barrier to entry from a regulatory perspective, he said. “We’re following a lot of similar technologies that maybe started their life in the dental implant space or in the dentistry space, and graduated up to orthopedics once they’ve been proven.”

Mesosil’s clients must obtain regulatory approval to bring their medical devices to market. The Toronto startup supports this process as it relates to its own material.

“Where we really need to hold ourselves high is just in terms of the quality of the material that we’re providing,” Stewart said. “We need to make sure that every gram of material that’s going out the door is at that medical-device level of quality.”

Feature image courtesy Mesosil.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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