Oct172010

“Confidence in the final product and the science behind it were the hallmarks that kept the Vystar team focused and determined during the financial crisis that almost robbed Vystar’s future.”

President and CEO of Vystar® Corporation
Bill Doyle
Vystar® Corporation
President and CEO

Interview by Mike Sullivan of Sully’s Blog

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Bill Doyle is President and CEO of Vystar® Corporation.  Prior to joining Vystar, Mr. Doyle was Vice President of Marketing, Women’s Health for Matria Healthcare, Inc. (now Alere) where he spearheaded the initial branding efforts and held responsibility for sales development, training, public relations, and marketing.  He has worked in many aspects of healthcare for over 30  years encompassing manufacturing, sales, marketing and advertising with such companies as Isolyser Company, Inc., McGaw, Inc., Lederle Laboratories (now Pfizer), and in an advertising capacity for Novartis Ophthalmics.

Vystar was founded in 2000 and has been dedicated to creating natural rubber latex with all the desired properties of latex while significantly reducing the allergy-causing proteins.  The company spent the early years of 2001 to 2007 focusing on the development and testing of the product that is now multi-patented and known as Vytex® Natural Rubber Latex (NRL).  In 2008 and 2009, Vystar finalized a series of manufacturing agreements.  Later in 2009, the first product made with the revolutionary Vytex NRL, the Envy™ Ultra Thin condom, was manufactured by Alatech Healthcare LLC of Eufaula, Alabama.  Vystar is working with manufacturers across a broad range of consumer and medical products to bring Vytex NRL to market in adhesives, surgical and exam gloves and other medical devices elastic threads and natural rubber latex foam mattresses, pillows and sponges.

MO:
This is a remarkable development, creating natural rubber latex without the properties that potentially can cause allergic reactions.  The question comes to mind, why didn’t anyone do this sooner?  What was the driver that caused you to take on this development challenge of creating Vytex® NRL?

Bill:
Researchers had been searching for many years for a process that could reduce the amount of allergy-causing proteins in natural rubber latex.  The major step leading to the production of Vytex® NRL arrived several years ago, with the scientific discovery that a well-known protein binding chemical known as aluminum hydroxide, or Al(OH)3, could play a key role in the process.  By adding aluminum hydroxide to natural rubber latex while the latter is still in liquid form, the compound acts as a binding agent, producing protein complexes within the latex.  These complexes can subsequently be removed from the latex using existing industry practices.  This removal process has received multiple patents for Vystar, and has served as a motivation for us to market Vytex NRL to a wide range of manufacturers who employ natural rubber latex and synthetic alternatives in their product lines.

MO:
With latex used in many situations, including the medical field, this has to be ground breaking.  What are some of the applications of this newly developed alternative?

Bill:
More than 40,000 types of commercial products are made from natural rubber latex, so the potential applications of Vytex NRL are extremely wide-ranging. In addition to the Envy™ Ultra Thin condom already on the market, we envision Vytex as a component in surgical and examination gloves, toy balloons, foam mattresses and pillows, adhesive bandages, and threads.  It could also be used in food and medical packaging and spray adhesives used in the furniture industry. Other medical applications could include catheters, rubber masks, head straps, rubber tourniquets, rubber nasal-oropharyngeal airways, teeth protectors, bite blocks, blood pressure cuffs, tubing and breathing bags, and that’s just a start.

MO:
How does this new, better latex product fit into the “green” movement?  Are there environmental considerations at work here as well?

Bill:
Natural rubber latex is biodegradable, and unlike most synthetics, Vytex NRL uses green chemistry to modify pure latex and so retains its biodegradability.  In contrast, many alternatives such as PVC vinyl, styrene, nitrile, choloroprene and polyurethane, which are made from petrochemical derivatives, are neither biodegradable nor compostable.  The incineration of those synthetic products can lead to the liberation of toxins and carcinogens, such as dioxin, cyanide, vinyl chlorides, and hydrogen chloride.

One study conducted at a latex surgical glove manufacturing plant in India further illustrates Vytex’s green properties.  During a period when the plant was producing 110,000 pairs of latex gloves daily, the amount of water consumed during the traditional rinsing and leaching procedure associated with standard latex was 36 kiloliters per day.  In comparison, using Vytex would require only 14.4 kiloliters per day.  The difference amounted to a savings of $108,000 annually.  At the same plant, the daily energy consumption associated with the use of standard latex amounted to 684,000 kilocalories per kilowatt-hour; the corresponding figure for Vytex would be 288,000 Kcal/Kwh. Here the annual savings came to $364,500.  Summing these figures shows that the plant could save itself $472,500 by using Vytex.

MO:
I’ve read about some of the benefits of using Vytex NRL, such as the fact that balloons made with the material can retain air and helium longer than untreated NRL.  Are there other benefits that result as byproducts of the drive to reduce allergic reactions?

Bill:
Yes there are.  The protein removal process yields latex products that exhibit significantly greater clarity and less odor without giving up the characteristics that give NRL its specific advantages.  In addition, results from field evaluations suggest that Vytex NRL paves the way for products with a cleaner appearance, an improved color, and better shear stability and gel time compared to untreated natural rubber latex, in addition to the improved air and helium retention rates in balloons.

MO:
What means are you using to market and spread the word about Vytex NRL?  What has the industry reaction been?

Bill:
We are spreading the word by presenting research at industry conferences, waging an ambitious public relations campaign, and conducting outreach to prospective corporate partners across various industries.  I maintain a busy speaking schedule; this past March, I traveled to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to present a paper I co-wrote on the cost and performance benefits of Vytex NRL to the Sixth International Latex & Synthetic Polymer Dispersions Conference there. At the end of September, Dr. Ranjit Matthan, Vystar Technical Consultant and a leading expert in latex technology, will present the paper at the 5th International Rubber Glove Conference & Exhibition 2010 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Articles on Vytex continue to appear in publications targeting specific industries.  The reaction has been quite positive to date. Alatech was the first to incorporate Vytex into a consumer product, the Envy™ Ultra Thin condom.  More recently, we have secured a licensing agreement with Central America’s largest latex producer to manufacture and sell Vytex throughout South America.  And we are negotiating with an Asian-based company that has expressed interest in developing and marketing surgical gloves featuring Vytex within Europe, the US and Asia.

MO:
Was there ever a point in the development process where you thought that you might not be able to produce the product you had envisioned?  If so, what got you through those times?  If not, how did you manage that much faith?

Bill:
The development of what would become Vytex NRL lingered for several years while our founder dabbled in other projects and tested multiple methods to achieve the necessary protein reduction. The results were mixed and the project shelved in 2003. I came on-board in 2004, creating the business plan that would evolve into the first of four PPM raises and the initial cash, primarily from healthcare personnel, needed to fund the next stage R&D.  A second PPM followed in 2005 but was hindered by the stagnant investment market and it closed with only a third raised and the company ran out of money that year.  To keep the doors open I secured other investments to fund mandatory operations and keep R&D on track.

During this critical time came the breakthrough research and the first of two patents for aluminum hydroxide modified latex prior to vulcanization. Vytex NRL was now a reality and the next three years eventful; full scale production in Malaysia and commercial launch of Vytex NRL, two more PPMs, two FDA 510(k) market clearances for exam gloves and condoms, toll manufacturing and licensing agreements with leading processors in Malaysia and Guatemala, and, mid 2009, Vystar became a public company (OTCCBB: VYST).

Confidence in the final product and the science behind it were the hallmarks that kept the Vystar team focused and determined during the financial crisis that almost robbed Vystar’s future.

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