Background: Craniosynostosis is the premature fusion of the cranial suture early in development. If left untreated, blindness, deafness, and delays in development can occur. The current treatment for craniosynostosis uses surgery to remove the fused area and remodel the skull. In up to 40% of patients, the skull re-fuses; necessitating additional surgery that often results in death or permanent damage. There is an unmet need for a safer and more effective method to delay the re-closure of such defects.
Technology: Inventors at Georgia Tech have developed a novel hydrogel based on copper-free click chemistry, (CH:click hydrogel) that is composed of a cross linker and a multifunctional reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) co-polymer. The reaction forms a covalently cross-linked gel; proceeds rapidly and can be safely carried out in living tissue. The architecture of the co-polymer allows for the incorporation of controlled release moieties for the delivery of small molecules, proteins, and nucleic acid therapeutics. The CH hydrogel also allows for customized release rates and degradation characteristics. The ratios between the cross linker and the co-polymer can be altered to achieve specific mechanical and degradation properties of the polymer. A major advantage of this hydrogel is that the polymerization does not produce free radicals and can be accomplished in-vivo. Completed mouse studies prove the effectiveness, safety, and utility of this technology in treating craniosynostosis.
Potential Commercial Applications: This invention would be useful as a delivery vehicle for factors to heal long-bone or calvarial defects in addition to the hydrogel’s unique use in treating craniosynostosis and orthopedic conditions. The polymer may also be used as a cell delivery scaffold, or as a carrier to deliver drugs. Regeneration of bone via delivery of bioactive agents, and the potential to serve as a scaffold for the repair of large muscle injuries are additional possible uses of this versatile CH hydrogel.
Benefits and Advantages:
Provides a novel delivery vehicle for proteins or other factors for correction of craniosynostosis.
Spontaneously polymerizes without producing free radicals. Polymerization can safely take place in-vivo.
Allows for tunable mechanical properties and compound release kinetics.
Potential uses include as a delivery vehicle in craniofacial, orthopedic, dental, and other medical applications.