2021 Team


Biological systems and their physiological processes are fundamentally associated with friction, lubrication and ultimately wear and tear whenever surfaces in contact move past each other. The human major synovial joints, {for example the knee joints) are exposed to high loads (the load is the body weight during articulation of the joint) and as such are the prime example of mechanically stressed environments. In pathological conditions such as Osteoarthritis {OA), cartilage surfaces degrade and are unable to lubricate effectively, which leads to high friction and wear often clinically translating into pain and discomfort for the patient. Liposphere Lt d. directly addresses this large unmet medical need to develop and commercialize a revolutionary IP-protected biolubricant that protects damaged cartilage by mechanical means. Our biolubricant creates a durable boundary layer with extremely efficient lubrication properties. The technology is based on the discovery of the ground-breaking Hydration Lubrication Mechanism {HLM;) and its understanding of water-charge interactions.

As human longevity increases, pathologies that affect joints, in particular the major joints have become a significant cause of disability and limit mobility in the aging population. Over 600M people worldwide suffer from OA, imposing a huge individual and socioeconomic burden. In many individuals, without efficient intervention, patients with cartilage damage and degradation have to undergo total knee replacement surgery. Hence, therapeutic interventions to delay surgery and ease symptoms are urgently needed for the treatment of OA.

To date, there is no generally accepted therapy available that alters the course of OA. The first step in current treatment is conservative, predominantly focused on pain relief, minimizing functional disability and limiting progression of structural joint changes. The most popular treatment after Stage 1 interventions before total knee replacement surgery is the intra-articular viscosupplement hyaluronic acid injection (IA-HA). However, the efficacy and safety of IA-HA treatment for knee OA have been topics of controversy, particularly among the orthopaedic community, as the current literature provides inconsistent results and conclusions regarding this treatment method. IA-HA injections act as viscosity enhancers/shock absorbers, but are exposed to the metabolic turnover of the synovial joint fluid. Hence, they have a very short retention time. Our solution in comparison, protects the cartilage directly. We have shown in in-vivo animal models that the retention time of our compound is 50-100x longer than the market standard HA. Moreover, we have shown the actual lubrication capability of our solution outperforms HA by 2 orders of magnitude up to 1Ox higher pressures. The origin of the outstanding lubrication capability of our formulations goes back to its unique composition and the interaction with surrounding hydration water in biological systems. Hydration layers, which are robustly bound water molecules that surround charges or zwitterionic groups of our formulations, have been identified as outstanding lubricating elements, sustaining high loads while exhibiting a fluid-like response to shear with extremely low friction. The underlying knowledge of the HLM allows us to manufacture Liposphere's materials.

Team Lead
Sabrina Jahn


Lead Mentors
Petra Krauledat
Beth Kahn