Thursday, May 12, 2016

The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) recently optioned technology for regeneration of damaged cartilage to CartilaJoint GenTech, LLC (CartilaJoint). CartilaJoint has also sponsored research in the lab of James Martin, Ph.D., UI Associate Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, to study the efficacy of a hydrogel-based material to regenerate damaged cartilage.

Medical entrepreneur Michael Sinsheimer founded CartilaJoint in 2015 after reading about the technology being developed by Martin’s team and funding a study to move in vitro proof of concept to initial proof in vivo. After encouraging results, the company has now exclusively licensed the technology from the UIRF.

The injectable, bioactive hydrogel is designed to repair cartilage damage, regenerate stronger cartilage, and delay or eliminate the development of osteoarthritis, providing an attractive alternative to total joint replacement. Artificial joints often wear out and need to be replaced multiple times. The gel uses the body’s capability to repair itself.

“We are excited by the possibilities of generating cartilage and helping millions of people with cartilage damage that often have to have knee replacement surgery,” Sinsheimer said. “Although we are enthusiastic about the project, we know that there are many challenges, and it will be a long time before this technology can find its way to the clinic. Our goal is to translate the technology to its commercial endpoint with our management expertise and funding.”

Sinsheimer has founded or co-founded more than a dozen medical technology firms and raised more than $50 million to translate ideas to their commercial endpoints.

Martin’s co-inventors are Yin Yu, a former graduate student and now postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University; Aliasger Salem, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics; Anh-Vu Do, Graduate Research Assistant in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; Behnoush Khorsand Sourkohi, Graduate Research Assistant in Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutics; Dong Rim Seol, Assistant Research Scientist/Engineer in Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation; and Marc Brouilette, Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

The UI Research Foundation is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, which provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover, @_UIRF.