Research Highlight

Interest Grows in New Hip Implant Technology from NUI Galway

Interest Grows in New Hip Implant Technology from NUI Galway

A new type of orthopaedic implant developed at NUI Galway, which could improve the lifespan of hip and knee replacements, is generating growing interest from the biomedical industry. 

OsteoAnchor aims to overcome a problem of implants coming loose over time by using a revolutionary surface of hundreds of tiny gripping claws. The implant is designed to not only grip bone securely, but also to encourage new hard bone tissue to grow into the implant, though a specially engineered lattice of tiny struts and pores.

Successful pre-clinical study
A recent successful pre-clinical study of an OsteoAnchor hip replacement showed the technology immediately grips the bone effectively, leading to a quicker recovery after surgery. No other surface coating on the market provides such a secure initial fixation with such potential for quicker recovery after surgery.

In addition, the hip replacement remained very secure over time due to extensive growth of the bone into the implant. The team is now moving towards clinical trials, with plans for a first-in-man trial in 2014.

$8.7 billion market
With the combined US and European markets for hip and knee replacements estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, the team behind OsteoAnchor will initially target a particular segment - the revision hip market - which is estimated at $800 million.

“We are keen to engage with potential investors and business partners interested in commercialising this high potential technology”, explains Dr Pat Mc Donnell who has been developing OsteoAnchor over the last four years with Dr Noel Harrison, of the Biomechanics Research Centre at NUI Galway’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science.

As people are living longer and undergoing hip implants later in life, the potential for reduced recovery times associated with OsteoAnchor is a key attraction.

“We have put together a team of orthopaedic surgeons to work with us to design a hip implant with OsteoAnchor,” adds Dr Mc Donnell. “They will participate in the clinical testing of the implant, providing the initial path to market. The initial target application is for patients having their second or third hip replacement in the same leg - that is one of the most challenging kinds of orthopaedic surgery, and it’s where OsteoAnchor can make a huge impact. In the future we hope to have OsteoAnchor knee and shoulder implants, but for now we are concentrating on hips.”

3D printing
OsteoAnchor is made from a standard titanium alloy using a process similar to 3D printing. A preclinical study showed the technology immediately grips the bone effectively, that recovery after surgery is quicker and the hip replacements remain secure due to extensive bone in growth. The product is also cheaper to manufacture due to one step manufacturing process, where the surface architecture is integral to the implant core.

The commercialisation project was funded by Enterprise Ireland and showcased at Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas event at the Aviva in November.

NUI Galway has a strong reputation for technology transfer, in recent years spinning out 25 High Potential Start Ups, 76 license agreements and over 100 patent applications, providing a significant basis for job retention and creation in Ireland.

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