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LatinX siblings transform wound care with honey-based bandage

It's a healthy competition that grew into a sticky business.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dr. Isaac Rodriguez and Kayla Rodriguez Graff are siblings whose family is from Puerto Rico.

"Our parents put us in karate, so we probably fought a lot when we were younger,” said Rodriguez Graff, SweetBio Co-Founder and CEO.

“It was a healthy competition I would say,” said Dr. Rodriguez, SweetBio Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer.

It's a healthy competition that grew into a sticky business.

With Dr. Rodriguez’s biomedical engineering background and Rodriguez Graff’s business background, the two created SweetBio.

“SweetBio is a Memphis-based medical device company that believes everyone deserves access to advanced wound care,” said Rodriguez Graff.

They have created a product in the simplest and most sugary way.

“We basically found a way to engineer honey into a solid. Honey has been used since the ancient civilizations to help treat different types of wounds, to help prevent bacteria, help with inflammation, and progress the wound to move forward,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

“There are eight million Americans who suffer from complex wounds. We’re not talking about papercuts but wounds that are expensive, hard to heal, and disruptive to not only their lives but their family lives. We’re talking diabetic ulcers, skin cancer,” said Rodriguez Graff.

Their product focuses on wounds from illnesses such as diabetes or skin cancer which are often expensive and hard to heal.

“We saw our family and the LatinX community and the 65 and older community. Those are the ones that are impacted with these wounds and the ones that are not getting anything more than a band aid,” said Rodriguez Graff. “We saw, especially during the pandemic, just the disparities and inequities rise especially as hospitals filled up. What were ways that you could provide access to care to those who need it in a way that they need it, so that everyone can move forward with their lives.”

Here's SweetBio’s solution.

“We combined a little bit of my research which was understanding how collagen sheets work and combining the honey. Our product is this collagen honey sheet that’s long-lasting, that can be placed on a wound or in a surgical site. It can last for days or weeks in a wound,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

There's also no throwing away of the bandage. It dissolves in your skin.

“Once it dissolves, you would put another one on. You would keep applying it until the wound fully closes,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “Honey has unique properties, so the low PH of honey is really important. That helps kill bacteria, helps progress the wound. It also has sugar content which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide.”

“It’s material that people can understand. It’s material that people can respect,” said Rodriguez Graff.

Credit: SweetBio

The bandage is FDA-cleared, patent technology, and can be covered by Medicare.

It has also gotten support from FedEx and the Memphis Epicenter.

“We’re seeing patients walk again after a couple of weeks, and they’ve had open wounds for years,” said Rodriguez Graff. “That’s just…There’s no words for how that feels.”

Plus, there is also a sweetened outlook on its impact.

“Typically, our community is a little hesitant for advanced medical care,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “We hope that they see us as ambassadors for the community, that our product is easy to use, it’s translatable.”

“For the next generation of LatinX, our Black community, our female community for me in particular, we wanted to be present while we’re in this, while we’re building, so that they can see that they can do it too,” said Rodriguez Graff.

It is a sweet bond in both family and health.

Right now, SweetBio’s bandage is only available through prescription from a doctor.

They said one of their goals is to make the bandage an over-the-counter product.