Spiderwort Inc., a biotechnology research company founded in 2015, specializes in tissue engineering and the development of cellulose-based biomaterials used for regenerative medicine applications. The research of this biomaterials startup began at the University of Ottawa where its founders, Andrew E. Pelling, Charles M. Cuerrier, and Daniel Modulevsky used material from an apple to create a human ear. In present day, their two established products, Cellubridge™ and CelluJuve™ are both innovative plant-based biomaterials that accelerate the regeneration of the spinal cord and injury recovery. The Canadian startup has great promise for the future, having secured $13.2 million USD in clinical research funding earlier this year.
Spiderwort’s medical device breakthrough product, the Cellubridge™.
The company name comes from the Spiderwort plant, an insight into their leading edge on the biomaterials industry. Similar materials from competing companies often use synthetic plastics or are taken from cadavers. Consequently, creating biomaterial that will remain non-toxic after long-term exposure is a challenge commonly faced by technology in this industry. Spiderwort’s biomaterial, however, is plant-based, and their clinical studies suggest greater biocompatibility and lesser chance of bodily rejection. Their products have been shown to enable healing damaged tissues and providing structural support while remaining inert, and thus are being tested in multiple applications based on their potential. In fact, their sister company, Whiteboard Foods, is commercializing their technology to improve plant-based meats and alternative proteins.
The process of deriving and applying their technology can be condensed to a few main steps. It starts with the harvesting of plant tissue (cellulose) from plants, followed by decellularization to isolate the desired cellular components from DNA, proteins, lipids, and other components. The empty cellulose scaffold can then be used for treatment, implanted in patients to support the regrowth of healthy cells and tissues. With this technology, Spiderwort currently has two established products. The Cellubridge™ is a biomaterial designed to promote the repair and regeneration of the spinal cord. Tested in small-animal models with great success, the material provides the scaffolding framework for functional growth and neuron regeneration. The CelluJuve™ is a dermal filler that assists with injury recovery and cosmetic enhancement. It works in conjunction with the body’s own proteins to help naturally rebuild healthy tissue. Both products demonstrate strong biocompatibility, and their sourcing from plants indicates no ethical concerns.
Through development, Spiderwort may be able to guide the regrowth of spinal cord structures in paraplegic and quadraplegic patients one day.
The Cellubridge™ was deemed a medical device breakthrough by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and their recent financing will strongly support their transition from pre-clinical studies to clinical trials. Spiderwort continues to hit new milestones, and their research to revolutionize the applications of tissue regeneration will be worth following in the near future.
Learn more about Spiderwort Inc. here: https://spiderwortbio.com/
About the Author:
This article was written by Mirvat Chowdhury, a chemical engineering student at the University of Toronto. She is interested in environmental engineering, and enjoys learning about biotechnology developments related to sustainability.