Opinion Leaders Shine Spotlight on Challenges of Developing Biomaterials

Opinion Leaders Shine Spotlight on Challenges of Developing Biomaterials

Nov 14, 2012 2:21 PM

SALT LAKE CITY—Leaders in the field of biomaterial research and development have collaborated on a collection of opinion pieces highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities involved in translating biomaterials for use in humans. These opinion pieces, published in the Nov. 14 issue of Science Translational Medicine, are the first in a groundbreaking new series of integrated discussions on special topics of interest in translational medicine, the complex process of turning biological discoveries into therapies that can be used in the treatment of patients.

“Many of the researchers involved in the development of biomaterials are unaware of the many hurdles involved in moving biomaterial technologies from the research lab to patients in the clinic,” says Glenn Prestwich, Ph.D., presidential professor of medicinal chemistry and presidential special assistant for faculty entrepreneurism for the Center of Therapeutic Biomaterials at the University of Utah. “Last January, I approached the editorial board at Science Translational Medicine with the idea of soliciting opinions from a multidisciplinary group of thought leaders, each providing their perspectives on barriers to biomaterial translation.”

The result of Prestwich’s suggestion appears in the current issue of Science Translational Medicine in a new section called, “Insider Views,” which features the viewpoints of nine biomaterials experts from the industry, nonprofit, academic, clinical, intellectual property, venture capital, and regulatory sectors. Each of these experts comments on potential bottlenecks that can occur in the biomaterial product development path, from uncertainty about the studies needed for regulatory approval to the risk associated with developing and commercializing an innovative biomaterial. 

“Taken together, the insider insights of these biomaterials experts emphasize that the process of biomaterial translation is like a disorienting rollercoaster ride,” says Prestwich. “To keep biomaterial development and approval on track, innovators need to negotiate the twists and turns associated with seven metaphorical ‘wheels’ representing the different requirements of all product stakeholders.”

Biomaterials are designed to be used in close or direct contact with the human body, and are used to deliver cells for cell therapy or to create replacement cartilage, artery bypass grafts, and other engineered organs. The overall challenge of developing new biomaterial products lies in proving the material’s biocompatibility with human tissue, addressing an unmet clinical need, and delivering a technology that is accepted by both physicians and patients.

“Successfully translating biomaterial technology into a product that truly benefits patients is a balance of innovation and practicality,” says Prestwich. “Although innovative technology is the starting point, it is the execution by a company to create and market a simple and effective medical product that determines whether a novel biomaterial reaches the clinic.”

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Media Contacts

Glenn Prestwich, Ph.D.
Presidential Professor of Medicinal Chemistry , Department of Chemistry
Email: glenn.prestwich@pharm.utah.edu
Phil Sahm
Science Writer , Office of Public Affairs
Phone: 801-581-2517
Email: phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu

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