March 3, 2013 Courier News Article

North Brunswick bio-tech firm promises improved results for implant patients, potential cost savings for hospitals and doctors

Orthobond Corp. approved to share $60 million in state funding

Mar 3, 2013   |  

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority's Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies in North Brunswick is home to Orthobond Corp.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority's Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies in North Brunswick is home to Orthobond Corp. / Photo Courtesy Orthobond Corp.

Written by

MaryLynn Schiavi

For the Home News Tribune

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA / Marc Burel, chief operating officer, Orthobond Cor

Editor's note: This monthly column explores ideas, insights and discoveries made in New Jersey that are shaping our future.

While our life expectancy has dramatically improved largely due to the development of medicines that have stamped out many of the diseases that posed a threat to previous generations, we find that increased longevity brings with it other challenges.

Now, we are more likely to face the possibility that one's knees or hips will give out long before one's heart.

Replacement of these parts is a viable alternative to living a life of pain and inactivity and a new set of knees or hips offers a promising solution, but there is a risk of infection which the Orthobond Corp. is hoping to minimize or prevent altogether with the development of SAMP technology, which stands for nanoscale self-assembled monolayer of phosphonate.

Speaking with unbridled enthusiasm about the breakthrough technology that his company is developing, Marc Burel, the company's chief operating officer said he believes that the North Brunswick-based firm is is poised to improve the lives of patients with implants and positively impact medical expenses by reducing the likelihood of infection.

Established in 2003 and based on the pioneering research of Princeton University's Jeffrey Schwartz in the area of inorganic chemistry, it is possible to manipulate the interface between synthetic material and the human body that has presented risks to patients and challenges to clinicians and medical device manufacturers for decades, according to Burel.

"As of a few years ago, Medicare is no longer assuming the financial responsibility for infections, so now the cost has been passed on to the surgeon and the hospital," Burel said.

For instance, when an infection forms because of bacteria that has spread on the surface of a knee implant, the implant may have to be removed and replaced which can be very expensive, he added..

How it works

According to Burel, any kind of implant, whether it's made of metal or a polymer, generally goes through some kind of passivation process which makes it less likely to be affected by environmental factors.

But Orthobond is going many steps further. It is developing a method for treating the surface of implant devices that doesn't allow the bacteria to establish an environment in which it can grow.

"When an implanted device becomes badly infected, generally it has to be removed and replaced which is uncomfortable and costly," Burel said.

While Orthobond's technology is not yet on the market, Burel and his team of researchers are confident that it will have an enormous positive impact for patients in need of implants.

Orthobond is the largest tenant in the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's (EDA) Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT), located in North Brunswick.

It is one of 65 emerging companies approved by Governor Chris Christie to share $60 million available through the State's Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program in 2013.

"A thriving technology industry remains an essential part of New Jersey's economy, and Orthobond illustrates perfectly how the State can help emerging companies maintain and strengthen their business," said Michelle Brown, chief executive officer, EDA.

On the grow

Since moving to CCIT in 2009, the company has grown from two to four laboratories and expanded from a staff of three to 11 in two years.

Burel is appreciative of the state's assistance especially in light of the unique challenges to biotech companies.

"As a growing biotechnology business, the ability to sell losses for cash through the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer program has been critical to keeping us on track during these early years," Burel said.

"Our location at CCIT has also provided us with a host of resources essential to a young company's growth, including the opportunity to interact with our neighbors, share instrumentation, discuss technology, and network."

Governor Christie recently signed into law the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program, which will provide tax credits for up to 10 percent of a qualified investment in an emerging technology business that has a physical presence in New Jersey and conducts research, manufacturing, or technology commercialization in the state.

The governor previously increased the State's Research & Development Tax Credit from 50 to 100 percent, providing technology businesses additional yield for their investments in New Jersey.

In early February the governor announced that the EDA is looking for a private partner to operate a Life Sciences/Healthcare IT Accelerator at CCIT to help catalyze commercialization and growth for the industry's most promising entrepreneurs.

For additional information on the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program and CCIT, visit To learn more about opportunities for business growth throughout New Jersey, visit the state's business portal at