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Tough Surgical Adhesive Commercially Licensed

Gel adhesive

(Wyss Institute, Harvard University)

21 July 2020. A bio-materials company is acquiring the rights to develop dental sutures and membranes from an adhesive gel developed in a university lab. Amend Surgical in Alachua, Florida is licensing the adhesive gel technology for oral surgery applications from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

The adhesive is a product of the Wyss Institute lab led by bioengineering and materials science professor David Mooney, which studies materials that aid in regeneration of cells and tissue. Among those materials is a hydrogel, a water-based polymer, derived from two types of biocompatible polymers: alginate from seaweed used today as a food thickener, and polyacrylamide used in water treatment plants and soft contact lenses. When combined together, the interaction of these compounds creates a tough and resilient material that its developers say is comparable to human cartilage.

A team from Mooney’s lab led by postdoctoral researchers Benjamin Freedman and Jianyu Li, now on the faculty at McGill University in Montreal, published a paper in July 2017 in the journal Science describing the gel adhesive. The material’s adhesive properties result from a layer of chitosan, another natural polymer, added to the hydrogel, which when positively charged uses electrostatic and chemical bonds to strongly adhere to most negatively-charged tissue surfaces, including wet surfaces.

Lab and animal tests with the material show it can stretch to 20 times its original size, and remain adhered to wet and dynamic organs and tissue, such as heart tissue. A later version of the adhesive shows the material resists bacterial growth and contracts when exposed to body temperatures, making it more suitable for wound healing. Freedman and colleagues demonstrate and tell more about the material in this Wyss Institute video.

Harvard is licensing the adhesive to Amend Surgical for oral surgery applications, although financial terms were not disclosed. “We envision that the tough adhesive,” says Robby Lane, CEO of Amend Surgical in a Wyss Institute statement, “could provide clinicians both a wound barrier and an effective means to protect bone grafts in a single, easy-to-apply product, and could potentially eliminate the need for sutures used in conjunction with most dental barriers.”

The company plans to manufacture the adhesive in its own plant in Alachua, Florida, and is exploring further development of the adhesive as patches to promote dental restoration, and to release drugs that promote wound healing and closure.

“It has been gratifying,” adds Mooney, “to watch this technology transform from a project in the lab into an innovation with real potential to help patients recover from surgery more comfortably.”

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