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April 11, 2022 Tech 25

2022 Tech 25: VeraDermics developing more effective, less painful approach to wart removal

PHOTO | UCONN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS Dr. Reid Waldman has a Glastonbury dermatology practice and is also developing a new wart-removal treatment called WartPatch.

Nobody likes to see a child cry.

For Dr. Reid Waldman, he sees it in his Glastonbury dermatology practice.

For Dr. Tim Durso, it is a painful memory of battling warts as a child.

In 2019, the two young doctors shared interests during a MIT Hacking Dermatology session, an event focused on exploring innovation in treating skin conditions.

The resulting idea of developing a new approach to delivering wart medicine was among five grand prizewinners. The $5,000 award launched VeraDermics.

Waldman explains that traditional wart treatment is painful and often doesn’t work. About 1.5 million patients — mostly children — are treated for warts each year. Freezing hurts and is effective about half the time. Injection hurts even more but is more effective.

Waldman estimated the pain of injection at a 7 on the 10-point scale doctors employ.

“I’ve seen adults cry,” Waldman says.

VeraDermics’ approach uses a dissolvable microneedle patch that’s applied much like a Band-Aid. The WartPatch microneedles “melt like an icicle,” Waldman explains, allowing the medicine to penetrate the skin in a process that’s essentially painless.

The technology isn’t new — it’s used in acne treatment, for example — but its use in treating kids with warts is unique.

Still there are a lot of steps from having an idea to having a product, especially in an area that requires Food and Drug Administration regulatory approval.

“The first year was spent learning a lot about business, building out the vision and trying to understand what it means to develop a pharmaceutical because at medical school, they don’t have classes on this type of thing,” Waldman said in an interview with Forbes magazine.

They learned well.

In September 2021 — just two years after the MIT hackathon — VeraDermics landed $20.7 million in Series A funding. Major players included J.W. Childs Associates, Vladimir Coric Family Trust, Peter Werth Family Investment Associates, a handful of small investors and Connecticut Innovations.

CI had rejected VeraDermics’ initial application for pre-seed funding in 2019, Waldman recalls. But in 2020, CI urged VeraDermics to reapply, and a pre-seed financial relationship was born. CI then came back for a bigger bite in the Series A round and now holds a seat on the board of directors.

Waldman cites FDA warnings about forward-looking statements in explaining his measured responses to questions about next steps.

Yes, he says, they expect WartPatch to be in clinical trials in 2022. No, they can’t speculate on whether UConn Health, where Waldman recently worked as a clinical trials resident, could play a role.

Yes, there are other potential applications and VeraDermics is looking at additional products in dermatology. No, he can’t speculate on when a product might come to market or whether they’ll need a deep-pocketed pharma partner to make it happen.

He points to Therapeutics Inc., a contract research organization in San Diego, as guiding their march forward. But even with $20 million in the corporate account, Waldman is keeping his day job at Dermatology Associates of Glastonbury.

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