Funding Secured for Orthopaedic Implant Research at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Researchers at NUI Galway, developing innovative orthopaedic implants for hip and knee replacements, have been awarded an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund Technology Development Grant. The new implants will be more effective for patients with decreased bone stock in the joint, particularly those who are receiving an implant for the second time and have lost bone from surgery to remove the first implant. Dr Pat McDonnell and Dr Noel Harrison, based in the Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Department at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) in NUI Galway, were awarded €400,000 to build on work completed from a previous Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund Technology Proof of Concept grant. The award will also see the continuation of a successful collaboration with orthopaedic consultant surgeon Bill Curtin of Merlin Park University Hospital, Galway. The implants will be made from titanium and will be designed to give better bone in-growth into the implant to improve the lifespan. Over 3,000 hip replacements are performed in the public sector in Ireland each year. Professor Frank Barry, Director of the NCBES, said: "The use of new engineering approaches to develop orthopaedic implants with enhanced properties is a central part of the NCBES research effort. I am delighted to see that this exciting and innovative project will be initiated in the near future". The project will run for two years where world-class biomechanical engineering facilities will allow the researchers to carry out detailed design, mechanical testing and histological analysis of the new implants, in order to validate the technology to attract potential industry partners and investors. The goal of the project will be to develop the technology to a stage where a partner orthopaedics company can be identified to bring the new implants through to clinical trials. This will be achieved with the support of the Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway. Professor Peter McHugh, Head of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, said: "This project demonstrates the wonderful synergy that can be achieved by integrating engineering, biology and clinical applications; this approach has been the cornerstone of NUI Galway's international achievements in biomedical engineering and of the development of the crucially important medical technology industry sector in the West of Ireland". Dr McDonnell and Dr Harrison both completed their PhD theses in the Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Department while based in the NCBES in recent years, and their success in achieving this grant demonstrates the progression from fundamental research to innovative product development that is crucial for the enhancement of the knowledge economy in the West of Ireland.
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