Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Univ. Develops, Licenses Nanotech Bone Injection Technology

Thomas Webster (Brown Univ.)

Thomas Webster (Brown Univ.)

A bone-healing fluid that can potentially be injected into breaks with a syringe has been licensed from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island by a biotech startup for further development. The technology, still in an early stage, was developed by Brown engineering professor Thomas Webster, and licensed to Audax Medical Inc., based in Littleton, Massachusetts.

The fluid is called TBL, for twin-base linker molecules. The molecules are artificial, say Webster, but made from common elements found in the body: carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. Webster (pictured left) co-developed the technology with longtime colleague and chemist Hicham Fenniri at the University of Alberta. Fenniri synthesized the molecules, while Webster’s research has focused on making TBL viable for medical use.

At room temperature their aggregate form is a liquid, but the material they form solidifies at body temperature. The molecules look like nanoscale tubes (billionths of a meter wide), and when they come together have a spiraling ladder-shaped arrangement reminiscent of DNA or collagen. This natural structure makes it easy to integrate with bone tissue.

Within the nanotubes, Webster’s research team added various drugs including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and bone growth factors, which the tubes release over the course of months. However, TBL’s properties have been demonstrated only in cow bone fragments in lab incubators. Webster says TBL still needs to be proven in vivo and, ultimately, in human trials.

Audax Medical brands the technology as Arxis and sees potential for repairing broken vertebrae. Part of the agreement with Audax Medical includes support for continuing TBL’s clinical development.

*     *     *

1 comment to Univ. Develops, Licenses Nanotech Bone Injection Technology