Dynamic Boundaries, a startup that aims to relieve pain and improve mobility for patients suffering from severe osteoarthritis, joined Cornell’s business incubator, the Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences, June 1.
“We’ve developed and patented a synthetic form of the protein lubricin, a natural lubricant present in healthy human joints, but it’s absent in osteoarthritic joints. Lubricin occurs naturally, and we mimic it,” said Kirk Samaroo, Ph.D. ’15, chief technical officer for Dynamic Boundaries and a co-inventor who worked on the analog for his doctoral thesis.
Once injected into a joint, the synthetic polymer – branded as NuvoSyn – bonds with the joint, providing a slick film that protects against further damage to cartilage and bone, he said.
Wear and tear as well as damage to cartilage and bone characterize osteoarthritis, a progressive condition that affects more than 36 million Americans. By 2040, doctors project that more than 78 million people will be affected, according to Arthritis Foundation statistics.
Current therapies rely on mitigating symptoms with pain relievers such as corticosteroid or hyaluronan injections. Since the disease is progressive, sometimes patients must resort to joint replacement, said Samaroo.
NuvoSyn will soon begin testing for eventual approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
Samaroo wrote his dissertation, “Biomimetic Boundary Lubricants of Articular Cartilage,” in the laboratory of Larry Bonassar, the Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Biomedical Engineering in Cornell’s Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering. An early collaborator, Mingchee Tan, Ph.D. ’15, co-invented the polymer in the laboratory of David Putnam, associate professor of biomedical engineering. Tan was integral to inventing and developing NuvoSyn, and he co-founded Dynamic Boundaries with Samaroo.
Samaroo and his colleagues fostered this company’s initial progress through a host of Cornell programs and services.
The budding entrepreneurs developed their business concept and startup funding through a first-place finish in the 2013 Jung-hyun Oh - Schramm - SSCP Advanced Materials Enabled Innovation Competition, offered at Cornell’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The contest challenged students to design an innovative technology based on advanced materials and to show how the product can be successful in the marketplace.
Dynamic Boundaries explored potential commercial applications in the Technology Commercializing and Entrepreneurship course taught by Wesley Sine, professor in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Additionally, the group refined their business concept in Life Changing Labs accelerator and through two PreSeed Workshops sponsored by the Biotechnology Institute, Cornell’s Center for Advanced Technology in Life Sciences Enterprise, funded by NYSTAR.
To move the product forward, a JumpStart grant for New York state small businesses at the Cornell Center for Materials Research helped the scientists refine their synthesis protocol and produce active material. Combined with subsequent awards from Cornell’s Center for Advanced Technology, the new company can now scale up the production of the principal ingredient and move it into large-scale animal trials, said Samaroo.
“Here at Cornell, we are very fortunate to have the resources and depth to support innovation, entrepreneurs and young ventures like this,” said Lou Walcer, director of the McGovern Center. “As a result, Dynamic Boundaries is well-positioned for success.”