Every year traumatic brain injuries (TBI) affect an average of 69 million individuals worldwide. Although the number is less than one percent of the total global population, it is large enough to draw attention from researchers and companies trying to ease the pain and suffering related to the injury, which is usually the result of a fall, a sports injury and especially traffic accidents. In the United States, it is one of the leading causes of death and disability among children and young adults. With so many biotechnology companies springing up to resolve, via bioprinting, many common afflictions and diseases, one of them has been developing advanced stem cell-based solutions since 2016 to combat neuronal injuries, with a particular focus on TBI and concussions.
Qrons, headquartered in New York, is now going further with their innovative research after they announced an agreement with Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, for an exclusive worldwide license to develop innovative 3D printable biocompatible materials to treat penetrating brain injuries, and more.
The agreement, signed October on 2, allows Qrons to use a patented 3D process entitled Mechanically Interlocked Molecules-based Materials for 3D Printing as part of its injury-specific 3D printable implants to treat penetrating brain injuries. Qrons is also a funding party to a sponsored research agreement with Dartmouth to advance the license or ownership of additional intellectual property, and the company’s research team is already working closely with Chenfeng Ke, the inventor of the licensed 3D process and an Assistant Professor at the university’s Department of Chemistry, to develop innovative 3D printable, biocompatible advanced materials.
Chenfeng Ke is currently leading the Ke Functional Materials Group Lab at Dartmouth, which focuses on syntheses and applications of polymeric materials for storage/separation and 3D printing applications. According to the lab, the research scheme overlaps organic synthesis, crystal engineering, polymer synthesis, materials characterization, and 3D printing, with an emphasis on the design of polymeric materials that are noncovalently assembled.
“We are excited to partner with Qrons and continue the development of smart hydrogels with 3D printing capability for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries,” stated Ke, who is also a member of Qrons Scientific Advisory Board.
Today, current treatments to help patients regain function after a TBI focus on reducing secondary injuries, mainly rehabilitation in a hospital or specialized therapy center. It usually involves a physical therapist and occupational specialist to help patients relearn how to walk, talk, and carry out other everyday tasks. Qrons claims that this treatment can partially reduce further damage but do little or nothing to heal the brain.
At Qrons, researchers use a multi-disciplinary approach to treat this highly complex condition, by integrating a 3D printable, customized scaffold with innovative, engineered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that target brain injuries to regenerate damaged tissue. The company suggests that these genetically modified MSCs offer a mechanism to secrete a continuous flow of neuro-protective and neuro-regenerative agents to drive TBI repair mechanisms. The agents can prevent further neuronal damage and have the potential to stimulate neurons to migrate to the injury site, regrow axonal processes and regenerate brain tissue.
Qrons already has two product candidates for treating TBIs, both integrating proprietary, modified MSCs and smart synthetic material. The QS100, an injury specific, 3D printable, implantable MSCs-synthetic hydrogel, to treat penetrating brain injuries, and QS200, an injectable MSCs-synthetic hydrogel for the treatment of diffused injuries commonly referred to as concussions.
The exclusive worldwide license for 3D printable materials in the fields of human and animal health will enhance the company’s research, leading to further innovations in a niche field.
“The intellectual property covered by this license has been instrumental in helping us advance our research on the treatment of penetrating brain injuries,” commented Ido Merfeld, Qrons Co-founder and Head of Product. “We believe combining Qrons’ proprietary hydrogel with customizable 3D printing capabilities is an innovative approach to treating traumatic brain injuries, for which there are limited treatments.”
One of 111 bioprinting companies in the world, Qrons is moving fast to research novel techniques for promoting neural recovery. Throughout the last three years, they have entered into research agreements with Ariel University, based in Israel to develop and commercialize products for neuronal tissue regeneration and repair, completed the first in vivo animal experiments for the QS100 and are close to beginning pre-clinical experiments for the QS200.
Jonah Meer, also co-founder and CEO, said that “there is a great need for our promising treatments, and this technology is an integral part of our work to develop innovative 3D printable, biocompatible advanced materials.”
As the widespread impact of TBI continues to grow, solutions like the ones proposed by Qrons could mean a different lifestyle for survivors.
[Images: Qrons and Dartmouth College]
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