What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that impacts over 150 million adults worldwide. OA is caused by aging, obesity, and injury, and the disease occurs when cartilage breaks down in the joint space, leading to inflammation and pain. OA is a leading cause of disability and makes it difficult for people to live full lives.
Nature has engineered silk with striking properties that make it an ideal material to treat joints:
- Silk can provide as much lubrication in the joint space as the body’s own synovial fluid.
- Silk is tough. Its degradation can be controlled, allowing treatment to last several months between injections. Silk microspheres can also release drugs locally into a joint over time.
- Silk is safe and biocompatible. It has been used for centuries in medical sutures and is in many approved implanted medical devices.
- Fibroin, the protein in silk, can easily be formulated into different structures, including microspheres of specific sizes.
How are Cocoon’s products different from other osteoarthritis treatments?
Currently, therapy for osteoarthritis consists of anti-inflammatory pills to reduce pain, physical therapy, and in some cases injection into the joint of either steroids or viscous supplements like hyaluronic acid. Steroids provide pain relief but do not treat the underlying mechanical problem. Hyaluronic acid provides mild relief for some, but often patients will need surgery, such as knee replacements. Cocoon’s products intend to treat the underlying cause of osteoarthritis, the wear and tear, and avoid the need for costly and risky surgery.
How does the treatment work?
Silk microspheres are injected into the painful joint. Once inside, they provide a lubricating surface in the joint to reduce the bone on bone wear and tear that causes further injury to the cartilage and pain. Over time, the silk microspheres naturally degrade into normal amino acids that are absorbed by the body.
At what phase is the company?
Cocoon is conducting pre-clinical studies to demonstrate the long-term efficacy of its products for osteoarthritis. The company has secured initial financing and intellectual property with a plan to develop products through to clinical testing stage.