Charleston, S.C. (July 7, 2016) – CuRE Innovations, LLC, a startup company founded in 2015 to develop advanced dental materials invented by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) faculty, has entered the next step of product development for a promising adhesive as part of research sponsored by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).
CuRE’s dental adhesive incorporates particles of copper iodide (CuI) that curtail infections, including the formation of tooth decay under existing dental restorations. With the $211,000 Phase I grant awarded by NIDCR in March, CuRE will evaluate the adhesive’s ability to inhibit development of marginal decay in restorations, while also ensuring the copper iodide particles do not impact the adhesive’s mechanical and bonding properties.
Upon successful completion of the research, CuRE will be eligible to apply for Phase II STTR funding for up to $1.5 million, which will position the company to submit the product to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for initial market approval.
MUSC’s Foundation for Research Development (FRD) has assisted the CuRE team, which includes faculty members of MUSC’s College of Dental Medicine, in many ways, including guidance with the STTR grant application. “A grant like this provides an incredibly valuable boost to a new company like CuRE,” said FRD Executive Director Michael Rusnak. “Now CuRE can explore a technology with the potential to positively impact the dental health of countless people.”
FRD has served as the university’s technology transfer office for nearly two decades, managing intellectual property based on MUSC research and finding corporate partners to translate technology into products. In November 2014, FRD launched a program to assist the MUSC startup community with STTR and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications. The impact was immediate: STTR and SBIR grant applications to advance MUSC intellectual property
tripled from an average of five annually to 15 in fiscal year 2015, followed by 16 applications in fiscal year 2016.
Top leaders of CuRE Innovations include:
• Chief Executive Officer Wally Renne, D.M.D., an associate professor with MUSC’s College of Dental Medicine in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and director of CAD/CAM Technologies
• Chief Operating Officer Anthony Mennito, D.M.D., associate professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation
• Chief Scientific Officer Zach Evans D.M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences
• Chief Financial Officer Christine Dixon Thiesing, M.B.A., associate director, MUSC FRD
CuRE is capitalizing on the opportunity to transform dental materials through copper iodide particles. While copper has been used in dental materials in the past and continues to be used in some ways today, its use is limited by its drawbacks. The sustained antimicrobial effects of copper iodide, combined with the white appearance imparted by the copper iodide particles, will serve as key points of differentiation for CuRE’s materials. The CuRE dental materials platform is covered by issued U.S. Patent No. 9,034,354.
Bacteria play an important role in oral health and digestion. Yet proliferation of certain bacterial strains leads to acid production, which is a primary contributor to formation of caries (cavities). An acidic environment also degrades restoration materials and destroys healthy tissue, which breaks down the bond between the tooth and those materials.
All these factors contribute to the formation of secondary caries under existing restorations and restoration failure. “The reality is that the restorations dentists place have to survive in one of the harshest environments in the human body,” explained Dr. Renne, a founding member of CuRE. The technology platform developed by the CuRE Innovations team ultimately protects the tooth and extends the longevity of restorations, he said.
CuRE’s lead product, its dental adhesive, should extend long-term bond strength when compared to typical adhesives with the downstream benefit of reducing secondary caries. More than a quarter of the 120 million resin-based composite (RBC) restorations placed per year in the U.S. replace failed restorations resulting from recurrent caries. Due to this extraordinary failure rate, the cost to replace failing restorations in the U.S. surpasses $5 billion annually. In addition, CuRE is evaluating the benefits of incorporating copper iodide particles into pit and fissure sealants, dental implants, endodontic materials, crowns and resins used for dentures. CuRE is generating preliminary data for these other copper iodide products to serve as the foundation for either additional collaborations with leaders in the dental materials industry or future Phase I STTR submissions.