Mussel Polymers developing tooth sensitivity treatment

Mussel Polymers, a Bethlehem startup company developing a new adhesive, which chemically mimics the way mussels adhere to surfaces underwater, has announced a breakthrough in the use of its product to treat sensitive teeth.   

Use of the polymer can be used to alleviate “dentin sensitivity” in teeth, the company said in a press release. 

The company said that researchers estimate that dentin sensitivity affects up to 30% of adults worldwide.  

However, there is currently no long-term, non-surgical cure.  

Current treatments range from daily use of desensitizing toothpastes to surgery. Mussel Polymers’ new approach using Poly(Catechol-Styrene) is expected to provide longer-lasting pain relief than current treatments. 

George Boyajian, CEO of Mussel Polymers Inc commented  

“Curing tooth sensitivity has been a challenge for the dental industry. We are excited that by using MPI’s non-toxic Poly(Catechol-Styrene) we have the potential to provide an affordable safe treatment affecting roughly 50 million Americans,” he said. 

Boyajian said the polymer showed early promise in the use of treating dental conditions because of its ability to adhere to surfaces in wet conditions, such as in the mouth. 

Marine applications of the polymer are also being explored. 

The company is conducting additional experiments with this dental system and is working with leading dental companies to bring this tooth sensitivity solution to market. 

Bethlehem firm developing glue that stays sticky when wet

George Boyajian –

For much of the last 25 years, Mussel Polymers Inc. CEO, George Boyajian, has worked as a technology executive specializing in breakthrough technologies. Along with his business partner, Mussel CFO Eric Anderson, they have helped launch a number of tech startups. 

They were looking for the next tech breakthrough that had a little muscle. What they found was actual mussels that were being used to create an innovative new adhesive that works underwater. 

Boyajian said they had pretty strict criteria for what they were looking for in new tech. It had to be innovative, able to be commercialized and financially viable. 

“Would people buy it?” he asked. 

He and Anderson looked over more than 800 new technologies that were under development at major universities around the country before finding the one that sparked their interest. 

Under the direction of Professor Jonathan Wilkers, Purdue University was working to develop an underwater glue using an $8 million grant it received from the U.S. Navy. 

With the technology they launched Mussel Polymers Inc at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Tech Ventures facility in Bethlehem. 

Boyajian has high hopes for the new adhesive, which chemically mimics the way mussels adhere to surfaces underwater. 

Wilkers looked at oysters and barnacles and a lot of other sea creatures that attach themselves to objects underwater. What he found was very complex proteins that secrete from the foot of a mussel and decided that was what he would pursue and replicate. 

Boyajian said it’s truly a major innovation. 

“There’s never been a glue that works underwater. He figured out how to simplify it and how to make it less costly,” he said. “It’s been 60 years since there’s been a new class of adhesives. The last one was Super Glue.” 

Perdue Professor Jonathan Wilkers conducting research with a tank of mussels. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

The first product Mussel Polymers will be bringing to market is an adhesive designed to work with corals. It can be used by aquarium enthusiasts, but it can also be used for larger-scale reef repair. 

“We wanted to do well while doing good,” Boyajian said. 

They should also be soon completing a product for the U.S. Navy, which had funded the early research. 

Boyajian said Mussel Polymers is also looking to get involved in medical uses. 

“Let’s face it, the body is a pretty wet place. You can see how this would be useful in many ways,” he said. 

Currently the company is developing a dental cement. Boyajian hopes to have it to market next year, but it first needs approval from the Food & Drug Administration. 

Boyajian and his team aren’t the only ones excited about the future of the new technology. 

The company recently won Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ Venture Idol competition, which awards funding to the best startup pitch. 

Anthony Durante, manager of entrepreneurial support for the Partners, who has been working with Mussel Polymers, spoke highly of the company’s prospects.  

“We love the adaptability of Mussel Polymers’ product to numerous applications,” said Durante. “But it is the deep experience of the team in commercializing industrial products that made us especially excited about investing in the company,” 



Ben Franklin announces $275K in regional investments

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania announced that it recently invested $275,000 with five companies in the region.

It made an early-stage company loan of $100,000 to Raven Biomaterials LLC in TechVentures in Bethlehem. The company will use the funds to further develop new magnetic beads that are used to separate biological components at a significantly lower cost than current methods. The beads can be used in cancer treatment, patient monitoring, gene therapy and scientific research.

It also made a $100,000 loan to Mussel Polymers Inc. of TechVentures in Bethlehem. The company will use the funds to streamline production processes using Poly(catechol-sterene) to develop new adhesives and adhesive primers that have better performance when used underwater or on wet surfaces.

Ben Franklin provided $25,000 in matching funds to American Polarizers Inc. of Reading. The company is partnering with Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Application Center to develop a processing method for a circular polarizer lens and expand the company’s product line to include small lenses and small-batch custom laminations. American Polarizers manufactures optical products that are used for scientific and medical instruments.

It made a $25,000 matching grant to BRD Noise and Vibration Control Inc. of Wind Gap. The company will partner with Lehigh University to incorporate new scanning and modeling techniques to make the process for assessing noise and vibration control projects more efficient. BRD specializes in HVAC acoustic design and manufacturing to help contractors keep mechanical equipment quiet.

Ben Franklin also made a $25,000 matching grant to GENTEX Corp. in Lackawana County. GENTEX will be working with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to optimize the Manufacturing Resource Planning tool and inventory management system to increase production efficiencies. GENTEX is a manufacturer of personal protection and situational awareness products for military, emergency response and industrial personnel. The company’s products include helmets, respiratory protection, communication equipment and advanced optics.