100th spin-off of the University of Liège, SYNOLYNE SA (Liège, Belgium), develops patented chitosan-based hydrogel to wipe out arthritis.

SYNOLYNE SA, the new spin-off of Liège University and spin-out of Kitozyme SA, is specialized in the research, development and marketing of a chitosan-based hydrogel with mechanical and biological properties designed to protect the cartilage and promote joint repair in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.

One of the debilitating factors of osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) is the declining quality of the synovium* that occurs with age and joint inflammation. The liquid that is normally present in the joint provides lubrication for the joint and cartilage in order to prevent abrasion. Today there is no treatment to cure osteoarthritis or to efficiently delay its progression. Current treatments are mainly based on alleviating the painful symptoms involved but are unable to restore the cartilage lining the joint. SYNOLYNE SA, will focus on the development and commercialization of a patented medical device designed to treat the arthritic joint by promoting cartilage repair and decreasing inflammation.

With support from the Wallonia Region, the creation and development of this patented hydrogel is the result of an on going collaboration, between the Bone and Cartilage Research Unit (BCRU www.bcru.be) directed by Professor Yves HENROTIN, and the company KITOZYME, another spin-off of the ULg, specialized in the development and manufacturing of innovative biomaterials derived from ultra pure chitosan. The company is currently in the initial fundraising phase that will allow for the launch of first human trials and the use of two research-issued patents recently received; one from the Bone and Cartilage Research Unit (BCRU) and another from a collaboration with KITOZYME.

How does it work?
The patented hydrogel biomaterial, a biphasic chitosan hydrogel, operates by visco-supplementation, a technique in which a product with visco-elastic properties, similar to that of the intra-articular (synovial) fluid, is introduced into the joint via injection. Injection of this biomaterial is designed to therefore compensate for the disappearance of the synovium often acquired with age and inflammatory condition (joint overuse, trauma, arthritis).

According to Synolyne’s founder Yves Henrotin**, the first product marketed by Synolyne SA will be a biphasic hydrogel composed of chitosan gel and viscoelastic beads that will act as a “shock-absorber” on the joints promoting the repair of cartilage lesions and defects in athletes and osteoarthritic patients.

Professor Henrotin also points out the prevalence of joint disease and the importance of its socio-economic impact noting its increase in prevalence with age is paralled with an increase in life expentancy. On that note, he specifies that osteoarthritis affects nearly 30% of patients between 45 and 64 years of age and 60 to 70% of those over 65.

Other crippling numbers

  • Oseoarthritis ranks a shocking second behind cardiovascular disease.
  • An estimated 1 million Belgians alone suffer from Arthritis.
  • In Europe, more than an estimated 18 million patients were suffering from Arthritis in 2006.
  • In France, the number of patients with osteoarthritis was estimated at 4.6 million, with annual direct costs of the disease reaching € 2.6 billion in 2001.
  • A recent study found that in 2007 the total cost generated by osteoarthritis in the United States reached a crippling $86.2 billion.

With the repair of cartilage lesion and treatment of arthritis still a great challenge today, the development of this patented hydrogel could not only be a promising approach in providing shock absorbers for the suffering patient but to the crippling numbers associated with the disease as well.

* Synovium is a thin layer of tissue that lines the joints and tendon sheaths and the cells within the synovium produce substances to lubricate the joint.

**Note: Prof Henrotin is also the founder and the chairman of ARTIALIS SA, a spin-off company specialized in the development and commercialization of biomarkers useful for the diagnostic and pronostic of musculoskeletal disorders. This comapny is also a CRO specialized in the management of clinical studies including osteoarthritic patients (www.artialis.com).  




GIGA Tower, Level 3, CHU Sart-Tilman,
Avenue de l’hôpital 11,
4000 Liège, Belgique

Pr Yves Henrotin (ULg)
Tel +32 4 366 25 16,
Gsm: +32 475 841 461


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