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Modified polymer system for improved cartilage repair

Improved cartilage repair via injectable modified polymers that target damaged tissues and enhance cellular response


Cartilage damage is one of the most common ailments in the aging population. Tissue damage, particularly cartilage damage, can occur due to traumatic injury, degeneration with time, and other soft tissue injuries. The inability of these to heal properly after an injury results in mechanical wear and altered mechanics in adjacent tissues. These degenerative changes leave the tissues vulnerable to damage, often leading to their failure.


The invention is a system of modified polymers that target damaged tissues and improve their repair process. The polymer acts by sealing the damaged cartilage and creating an environment that facilitates tissue healing. Current treatments involve application of glues or polymers directly to the injury site but are not living, something that the technology presented here achieves by delivering polymers intraarticularly to specific tissues, recruiting cells and directing their response. This targeting mechanism leads to enhanced and efficient healing. Moreover, the material is also tunable and can promote cartilage formation or anti-inflammatory effects, allowing for a treatment plan that can be customized to the patient’s tissue damage.


  • Treatment can be customized to the patient and type of tissue damage
  • Enhanced delivery of therapeutics
  • Provided via intraarticular injection or applied arthroscopically near the defect
  • Improved cartilage repair
  • Ability to seal damaged cartilage and restore proper fluid flow


  • Injectable therapeutic
  • In conjunction with stem cells injections to improve delivery, repair and/or regeneration
  • Damaged tissue removal treatments e.g. cartilage debridement, meniscectomy
  • Tissue repair treatments

Top Figure: Cartilage defects can cause increased fluid flow and loss of matrix proteins, including proteoglycans. This leads to elevated strain levels in the adjacent tissues, leaving tissues susceptible to wear, and ultimately joint-wide OA. 

Bottom Figure: This technology has the potential to treat damaged tissues. The first option restores fluid flow with a barrier at the focal defect interface and reduces the rate of degeneration. The second option would promote cartilage repair. The third would direct cells to the defect, providing an anti-inflammatory benefit, and improving the healing process. Currently, the proposed technique is option one, or a living fibrous “biosealant’.

Stage of Development:

  • Theoretical design based on individually verified principles in polymer modification has been developed
  • Integrated binding of the microenvironment has been established.
  • The effect of the material’s tunable nature on cell mechano-response have been confirmed.
  • The biomaterial’s implementation and retention in a pilot animal study has been achieved.
  • Next steps are to optimize and characterize the therapeutic, detail the in vitro response of cells to varying biomaterial mechanics, and further test the material preclinically.

Intellectual Property:

Provisional filed

Desired Partnerships:

  • License
  • Co-development

Patent Information:


Docket # 18-8501

For Information, Contact:

Jeffrey James Associate Director, PSOM Licensing Group
University of Pennsylvania