Novus Life Sciences : Creating novel biomaterials to treat bone and cartilage defects

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The latin word Novus is a synonym for ‘novel’ or ‘new’ which aptly describes the rising startup Novus Life sciences, a biotechnology company based in Hong Kong that creates biomaterials for the treatment of bone and cartilage defects.

Bone and cartilage defects such as arthritis are pressing issues faced by both patients and doctors. Doctors are concerned about the limited treatment options available while patients have to endure pain in their joints for several years.

Treatment techniques include biomaterials such as bone fillers or bone cement that are used to fill and heal the damaged or broken bones. Bone cement is made out of PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) which is used to anchor artificial joints to the bones by filling the free space between the two.

The CDC estimates that the number of men and women with arthritis will increase almost 49% to more than 78 million in 2040. Bone cement is used very commonly as treatment, however it has its own inadequacies. This is where Novus aims to create a niche for itself in the market. According to the CEO of the company Wilson Wong,  “Lots of companies are working on bone cement, but we have to change the formulation into one that has the most effective applicability in surgery and treatment.”

Novus life sciences

Novus Life Sciences 

Novus Life Sciences was founded in February 2014 by CEO and founder Dr Wilson KL Wong, Executive Director Dr Kenneth KY Lai, Dr Nicholas CL Wong, Mr. Joseph KC Shau and consultant Mr. Vernon LL Tam.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive joint disorder which is typically characterised by articular cartilage defects, changes in the subchondral bone and cartilage degradation. It is believed that the subchondral bone has an important role in the onset and progression of the disease.

osteoarthritis
Credit : Wikimedia Commons

The biomaterial created by Novus Life Sciences, is a bone healing injection given at the subchondral bone. By treating problems in this area, it could slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. The product is designed to behave like ordinary bone cement but with additional unique properties as follows:

  1. The biomaterial used has variable viscosity. It can exhibit a gradual change from a lower viscosity to higher viscosity depending on the surgery prerequisites. For example, spine surgery requires high viscosity whereas smaller bone defects need a lower viscosity.
  2. Viscosity can be small enough to pass through gauge 25 needle, and at the same time the stickiness can prevent it from spilling around
  3. It has excellent biocompatibility
  4. Provides ultimate flexibility in surgery
  5. Minimal complication risks during surgery due to surface-coating technology and nanotechnology of the product.

To know more, watch the video below :

Currently, one of the main diseases targeted by Novus is osteoarthritis. Other areas of applications in humans include vertebroplasty, maxillofacial surgery and dental surgery. Animals can benefit as well – as seen in the treatment of osteochondritis dissecans in horses and any bone-related surgery in other animals.

Considering that orthopaedics is a huge market, CEO Wilson Wong has a different take on how they will capture the market. He says, “The market for orthopedics is big and there are a lot of major players that share the market. It is hard to estimate how much share we will get, but we are still confident in partnering with large medical device companies on marketing our product”. The team plans to commercialize the product by working with universities and hospitals to complete clinical trials and with vet clinics as a demonstration of their technology advancement to treat animals.

In 2017, the company will begin with animal trials by targeting treatment of the domestic animals in Hong Kong, China, Europe and horses in the global market. In 2018, they also plan on expanding into human clinical trials in China and Europe. While working on the development of the new and improved version of the bone cement, they also plan to simultaneously introduce a complementary product line i.e. Cartilage substitute.

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The team at Novus Life Sciences

When asked about his experience as a startup founder, CEO Wong mentioned that it is important to be prepared for any type of failure and even more crucial to analyze whether it is critical or not. “Having patience and being a quick learner is also vital to succeed”, he added. He also believes that “good planning of funding strategy”, “wise use of funding”, “leveraging the collaboration of universities, government, communities are key to the growth of any startup company.”