Harvard Licenses Tough Gel Adhesive Technology to Amend Surgical

Dentistry Today
Wyss Institute at Harvard University


Wyss Institute at Harvard University

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has exclusively licensed its tough gel adhesive technology to Amend Surgical so the biomaterials company can develop applications for oral surgery.

Amend Surgical aims to redefine the current standard of care, which often requires clinicians to place painful and irritating sutures in the tight and difficult to access oral cavity, according to the Wyss Institute.

The technology is a biocompatible hydrogel-based material that strongly binds to biological tissues even in difficult, wet environments such as the oral cavity. It was created in the lab of Wyss Core Faculty member David Mooney, PhD, and developed by postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Freedman, PhD, and former postdoctoral fellow Jianyu Li, PhD.

After conducting initial validation and optimization of the tough adhesive, Amend Surgical plans to explore its use in products that release drugs or other active agents during wound closure and patches that promote dentin restoration.

“We are really enthusiastic about the application of our tough adhesive technology in dental surgery, as it has the potential to dramatically transform current clinical practice,” said Freedman.

“Both our engineering and clinical teams were involved in the evaluation of this important technology, and we are eager to begin commercialization,” said Robby Lane, cofounder and chief executive officer of Amend Surgical.

“We envision that the tough adhesive 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,” said Lane.

The company intends to ultimately manufacture the tough adhesive at its facility in Alachua, Florida, where it already employs a complementary manufacturing process.

Lane first learned about the tough gel adhesive during a meeting with Erika Bechtold, PhD, director of technology commercialization at Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD), when they met at an industry conference in 2019.

It was evident that the technology would complement Amend Surgical’s biomaterials portfolio, the partners said. Discussions and site visits soon followed, culminating in the license agreement spearheaded by OTD.

“We knew that the tough gel adhesive had enormous potential in a variety of internal and external wound closure applications, and the license with Amend Surgical in the oral surgery space is a great first application to leverage all of the unique advantages and features of this technology, beyond even its ability to bind to wet surfaces,” said Bechtold.

“It shows great promise for development into a range of possible products that would benefit both patients and their physicians,” said Bechtold.

First described in Science in 2017, the tough gel adhesive maintains its binding strength for multiple weeks after application, even over tens of thousands of cycles of repeated motion.

The gel also can be engineered to include therapeutics such as antimicrobial molecules and/or contract in response to body heat, helping to prevent infection and close wounds faster. It is fully biocompatible and nontoxic as well as much easier to apply to a wound than traditional closure methods, the partners said.

“It has been gratifying 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,” said Mooney, who also is the Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

“I’m proud of the work the team has done to successfully get it to this point and look forward to further collaboration opportunities with Amend Surgical to see it make an impact in the clinic,” said Mooney.

“This agreement exemplifies how the Wyss Institute’s model of technology translation accelerates the pace of innovation and commercialization, bringing novel solutions to real-world problems with the help of industrial partners who are also willing to commit to an idea that has the potential for enormous impact,” said Wyss Institute founding director and SEAS bioengineering professor Donald Ingber, MD, PhD.

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