Nuria Oliva-Jorge

Nuria Oliva-Jorge

Imperial College London

Nuria Oliva-Jorge

DNA nanotechnology for bone repair

Our platform technology allows for controlled release of key nutrients (growth factors) where and when cells need them, with the aim of promoting healing of non-union fractures in a safer, more affordable and more efficient manner

One in ten broken bones will never heal, a condition medically known as a non-union fracture. These non-union fractures are painful and debilitating and carry a 50% risk of permanent disability. They also have a tremendous impact on health economics, with an annual estimated direct healthcare cost of over $1 billion in the US alone.

The major reasons for non-healing fractures are lack of stability, lack of blood supply, or both. External or internal fixators are used to keep the two parts of the bone in place and enhance stability. Meanwhile, the lack of blood supply prevents nutrients, like growth factors, from reaching the injury, leading to ineffective repair. Because growth factors are key players in the healing process, significant research effort has focused on delivering growth factors to wounds to enhance healing. However, due to inefficient delivery, very high doses of growth factor are needed to provide marginal therapeutic benefit, making these therapies inefficient, costly and leading to serious negative complications for the patient.

We have developed a novel, patent-pending platform technology that allows for sustained and controlled release of growth factors where and when the cells need it. This technology, called TrAPs (Traction force-Activated Payloads), uses DNA nanotechnology that acts like a folded cage for growth factors, keeping them inactive and protected until cells release them by pulling on the TrAPs and unfolding the DNA, similar to untying a shoelace. As a proof of concept, we have shown that TrAPs promote 1.5-fold increase in cell growth using 1000x less growth factor than currently available products in the market, making our platform technology safer, more affordable, and more effective. Interestingly, TrAPs are also the only technology available that has demonstrated the ability to activate therapeutics selectively based on the cell type that is interacting with the TrAPs. Finally, TrAPs are based on aptamer technology, allowing the leveraging of prior aptamer development and scale-up efforts into new, previously unaddressable market sectors. Intrigued? Learn more about TrAPs on Youtube:

We are currently seeking to establish a network of connections in the medical community, especially within the orthopaedic surgery specialty, to help identify market and customer needs. In addition, we are interested in building connections with businesses focused on aptamer development and biomaterials for wound care to explore strategic synergistic co-development opportunities.

Apply for Cohort Four

Focusing on novel solutions that address the Future of Pain our Challenge Accelerator Programme offers a salary replacement to take six-months (full-time) away from the lab to develop a medical technology into a business venture. The programme offers entrepreneurship masterclasses, specialist advice, access to co-working space and an allowance for travel and consumables (up to £45,000).

Applications Closed