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New Biomaterial-based Adhesive Helps in Tendon Regeneration Process

Published on 2022-01-18. Edited By : SpecialChem

TAGS:  Sustainability / Natural Adhesives    

New Biomaterial-based Adhesive Helps in Tendon Regeneration ProcessResearchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed Janus Tough Adhesives, a multi-functional biomaterial-based tendon therapy that addresses key challenges in the tendon regeneration process.

JTAs Act as High-capacity Drug Depots


The research team was led by David Mooney, Ph.D. Founding Core Faculty member at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Eckhard Weber, Ph.D. at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), and Daniel Kaufmann, Ph.D. at Novartis Technical Research and Development.

The two-sided material firmly adheres to tendons with one of its specifically engineered surfaces, while allowing normal gliding of healing tendons with its opposite mechanically tough yet elastic surface. Janus Tough Adhesives (JTAs) can act as high-capacity drug depots, slowly releasing small molecules into tendon tissue to help facilitate healing.

Tendon Regeneration Across Multiple Injuries Types


The researchers compellingly demonstrated the regenerative abilities of drug-free and drug-loaded JTA versions in a series of injury-relevant, pre-clinical tendon models.

JTAs with their combination of tissue-specific capabilities offer a new opportunity to overcome current insufficiencies in tendon regeneration across multiple types of injuries, and could help many patients regain more normal tendon functions and mobility,” said David Mooney.

Our exceptional partnership with multi-disciplinary research groups at Novartis, besides providing highly complementary technical, modeling and experimental expertise, also enabled us, for the first time, to optimize and apply a Tough Gel Adhesive for the local delivery of a small molecule drug, which was one of our early goals,” added Mooney.

Mooney leads the Wyss Institute’s Immuno-Materials Platform and is also the Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS.

JTAs - Part of Tough Gel Adhesive Technology


JTAs are the latest example of biomaterial-based adhesives developed by Mooney’s team as part of their Tough Gel Adhesive platform technology, which originally was inspired by the tough mucus produced by the Dusky Arion (Arion subfuscus) slug.

Previously, the researchers had engineered non-toxic, hydrogel-based biomaterials that can adhere to diverse wet surfaces, including injured tissues still covered with blood, and withstand the mechanical stress produced by friction in the moving tissues. These features make them highly useful as tissue sealants (adhesives used to hold tissues together that were severed by injuries) and wound dressings, as current adhesive materials don’t fulfill these essential requirements.

To create Tough Gel Adhesives tailored to tendon regeneration, “we forward-engineered an alginate-polyacrylamide-based hydrogel into a two-sided biomaterial, essentially, by modifying one of its surfaces with a sugar known as chitosan, which we showed allows firm bonding to tendons. The unmodified side could simultaneously enable gliding under the continued friction tendons that are exposed during movement,” said first-author and Postdoctoral Fellow Benjamin Freedman, Ph.D., who spearheaded the study in Mooney’s lab in close collaboration with the Novartis research groups.

Within this ‘Janus-faced’ hydrogel, we then loaded a model drug that could be slowly released and chemically reduce inflammation,” added Freedman.

Freedman and his co-workers are developing JTAs as off-the-shelf biomaterials for easy use by surgeons. All the biomaterial components in JTAs, including chitosan, which is obtained from the shells of crustaceans, are biocompatible and already used in other medical applications.

At the start of the project, Freedman had a mini sabbatical at Novartis in Basel, Switzerland, to collaboratively define and stress-test the targeted profile of the tendon therapeutic.

JTAs Bonds to Blood-coated Isolated Porcine Tendons


A vivid back-and-forth of experimental results obtained on both sides of the Atlantic, and monthly conference calls between the Wyss Institute and the Novartis teams propelled the research forward. In their concerted effort, the teams demonstrated that JTAs robustly bonded to blood-coated isolated porcine tendons and they found them to bind stronger to the different types of tendons than the existing tissue adhesives TISSEEL, Dermabond®, and SurgiCel®.

They also implanted JTAs next to the patellar, foot flexor, and Achilles tendons of a rat in vivo model and confirmed their strong tendon adhesion non-invasively with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and high frequency ultrasound.

To show that JTAs’ resilience and elasticity protected tendons and enabled them to glide, the researchers attached them to the flexor tendons of human cadaveric hands, extending and flexing the wrists over hundreds of cycles: they noticed no signs of wear or disintegration.

Importantly, when we applied JTAs to ruptured patellar tendons of rats, they remained in place over their three-week implantation and facilitated tendon healing. They also reduced the formation of scars by 25%, compared to surgically repaired tendons that we didn’t treat with JTAs,” said Freedman. Scarring normally accompanies healing as a result of inflammation and causes long-term loss of tendon functionality.

Promising Avenue for Adaptive Therapy


Using a patellar injury model in rats, the researchers investigated the effects of a corticosteroid, an anti-inflammatory model drug, that was encapsulated and released in a sustained manner from JTAs. Using state-of-the-art imaging technologies and molecular immunoassays, they showed that, in the tendons treated with corticosteroid-loaded JTAs, the inflammation subsided significantly faster.

Therapies for tendon repair and regeneration should be ideally adaptive by nature, and cover the spectrum from resolution of inflammation and pain to restoration of tendon tissue matrix and function,” said Michaela Kneissel, Ph.D., Global Head of the Musculoskeletal Disease Area at NIBR.

The combination of active pharmaceutical ingredients with Janus Tough Adhesives has the potential to become a promising avenue for such an adaptive therapy, with release and activity of pharmaceutical ingredients gated by the JTAs to better facilitate tendon repair and regeneration,” added Kneissel.

This study by David Mooney and his collaborators at Novartis signals a true advancement in the development of multifunctional bioinspired materials in the field of regenerative medicine. These novel materials developed for tendon repair could easily be modified to develop a whole family of materials that facilitate repair in other tissue locations in the human body, each designed to address its own distinct mechanical and chemical challenges, benefitting even more patients in the future,” said Wyss Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Other authors on the study are Sungmin Nam, Ph.D., Daniel Kent, M.D., Anna Rock, and Yann Tinguely on Mooney’s team at the Wyss Institute; Markus Kurz, Ph.D., Andreas Kuttler, Ph.D., Nicolau Beckmann, Ph.D., Michael Schuleit, Ph.D., Farshad Ramazani, Ph.D., Nathalie Accart, Andreas Fisch, Ph.D., and Thomas Ullrich, Ph.D., members of the research teams at Novartis; and Jianyu Li, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who co-developed the first Tough Gel Adhesives in Mooney’s group. The study was supported by a grant through Novartis.

Source: Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University


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