Our finalists for this year’s $200K Challenge are experiencing our traditional event in a very unique way. The event will be held virtually, with the PitchOff taking place on September 17th and the Award Celebration on October 1st, and will be completely free with registration. While this year’s event looks different, we still want to bring attention to each of our unique finalists and their innovations.
We talked to Laura Paulsen, Director of Product Management at Hyalex Orthapaedics. Hyalex Orthopaedics develops transformational synthetic cartilage technology and implant systems for diseased and damaged joints. She told us about their journey so far.
What was the genesis or inspiration for your idea?
“We have a classic—innovation at the intersection of fields, bringing new people together who otherwise wouldn’t have overlapped—genesis/development story. One of our co-founders, Lampros Kourtis, was working in a cartilage research lab at Stanford University while another one of our co-founders, David Myung, was working on his MD/Ph.D. also at Stanford developing new materials for ocular lenses.
“Their advisors introduced them because the new materials David was developing appeared to have cartilage-like properties. From there, the rest is history – they collaborated to create a new material family for use in orthopaedic cartilage replacement, and Hyalex was born.”
What are the most significant barriers you’ve faced and overcome?
“HYALEX® synthetic cartilage is a platform material that has potential for application in a variety of joints with an articulating surface. Given limited resources, selecting the most promising application on which to focus has been a challenge since it’s a balance of unmet need, market opportunity, and reimbursement, anticipated regulatory pathway, technical development timelines/costs, etc.
“After multiple surgeon conversations, research, and team brainstorming, we’ve prioritized knee cartilage repair, and are also excited to one day see HYALEX implants used in any joint that could benefit from synthetic cartilage.”
Can you share a “Eureka!” moment—a breakthrough in the development of your idea?
“We had a ‘hurrah’ moment when we analyzed the results of our 14-week rabbit study with published results at the Orthopedic Research Society earlier this year (link to abstract here). The results showed no wear on articulating cartilage surface as well as good cartilage compatibility and fixation, which crystallized our focus on knee cartilage defects because we’re the only synthetic cartilage that is able to produce these kinds of results.
“Because we have such a unique and promising material platform technology with many different potential applications, this study and result really helped us bring certain knee applications to the forefront of our development efforts.”
If you win, what’s next?
“We’re continuing to make progress towards our first in human clinical trial. We’re fortunate to have a great team, board of directors, and to be a UMass Lowell M2D2 and JLABS company who are all supportive of our endeavors, and we intend to continue to make progress regardless of winning the M2D2 $200k challenge.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company including delays in research and development and preclinical studies is not insignificant given our heavy reliance on now-closed University labs and resources to support our work.
“If we do win, the resources, as well as increased awareness and visibility in a time of social-distancing, will be invaluable to help us maintain our momentum, progress our development timelines, and position us in the orthopaedic industry.”
We wish Hyalex Orthopaedics luck in this year’s $200K Challenge!
Meet More 2020 $200K Challenge Finalists:
- Arrow Diagnostics
- Amachumu Bio
- Cx Therapeutics
- MicroBioMed Corporation
- Oriel Research Therapeutics