Collagen serves as the premier, load-bearing molecule in humans and animals, and is one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This abundant protein helps to support and repair damaged tissue. However, the medical community has struggled to fully leverage the power of collagen for use in everything from wound care, to the treatment of collagen-based pathologies such as tendinitis. Products such as collagen patches and sponges are used in a variety of applications, however, issues can arise with transporting protein to the injury site, as it requires millimeters of diffusion-based travel. Additionally, without a way to stabilize the soluble collagen, there is a high risk of fibrosis and formation of excess tissues that inhibit native function of the tissues being treated. 
Injection of collagen is another potential approach, but one of the challenges is its propensity to spontaneously assemble into insoluble fibers, unless accompanied by extremely large amounts of fluid (1 liter of fluid per 1 milligram of collagen). This would make it prohibitive for any form of injectable therapeutic. 
Technology Overview
This technology represents a novel method for injectable delivery of collagen for the treatment of collagen-based pathologies. The researchers have discovered that individual saccharides of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) have the ability to raise the critical concentration at which collagen spontaneously assembles, by three orders of magnitude. This means that 1 milligram of collagen could be delivered within 1 millimeter of solution. 
This work is based on the hypothesis that the relationship between aging and a decline in healing capacity, is caused in part, by the decreased production of glycosaminoglycans, which prevent the stabilization of collagen as soluble individual molecules. Collagen solubility is of critical importance since cells are largely immobilized within the dense network of fibrils and rely on diffusive transport of proteins and enzymes to maintain the Extracellular Matrix. 
- Ability of collagen to remain soluble at 3 orders of magnitude enables injectable therapeutics 
- The saccharides do not disrupt or destroy pre-existing tissues 
- Collagen/saccharide mixture contains only naturally occurring biological molecules 
- Collagen remains soluble allowing it to diffuse to the injury site, incorporate, and repair 
- Preventative and accelerated wound care for collagen-based tissues 
- Treating acute or chronic collagen-based pathologies (e.g. tendinitis) 
- License
- Partnering
- Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Jeffrey Paten
Hygroscopic molecule
Nucleation Inhibitor
Proteoglycan - Glycosaminoglycan - Saccharide
Threshold concentration