For patients with osteoarthritis, the goal is to prevent joint replacement surgery for as long as possible because the artificial joint typically only lasts around 20 years before a very complex revision surgery is needed.
So doctors try for a temporary solution, which involves injecting a viscous fluid into your joint. The problem is that the typical injection only lasts for a few weeks.
Now, a Boston University post-doctoral fellow has developed a new fluid called ABX Viscoelastic that is projected to provide osteoarthritis patients six months of relief, and potentially even up to one year. His company Articulate Biosciences uses tissue-protecting and function-restoring biomedical polymers that are biocompatible and provide cushioning and lubrication to the joints.
“If your car engine is getting old and is due for replacement, but you’d like to keep it functioning as long as possible, you can do an oil change to keep it running. It’s the same in a knee joint,” Benjamin Cooper, co-founder and CEO of the company, told The Buzz. “ABX Viscoelastics are analogous to long-lasting, synthetic motor oil. You could use conventional oil, but it will break down very quickly—the current osteoarthritis injectables fall into this category. Our product is comparable to using synthetic oil, which lasts longer and protects the mechanical components of the engine better.”
Cooper said there are currently 15 million people in the U.S. with mid-stage osteoarthritis, which is Articulate Biosciences’ target market. In total, 30 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis and it is considered the most common cause of disability.
Cooper also thinks there is the opportunity to “blaze our own path to an inadequately addressed market” by solving joint issues in other parts of the body such as fingers and wrists.
The company has already won the $100,000 challenge hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, as well as received a U.S. Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Health. Earlier this year, they were selected as a JLABS company by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
Currently, the company is in preclinical trials – it has completed tests on rodents that show the fluid protects cartilage in the joint, lowers friction and remains in the joint much longer than current alternatives. Studies in larger animals are underway.
Cooper said if results from the current studies return positive, the company will be eyeing strategic partnership and investment options later this year. If interested in opportunities with Articulate Biosciences, email firstname.lastname@example.org.