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Implants that do more

Bioretec’s products represent a new generation of bioresorbable surgical devices for use in operations on broken bones, ligaments, and cartilage – particularly in the orthopaedic field.

Bioretec’s products have their roots in research on biomaterials and implant technology started by a team led by Professor Pertti Törmälä at the Tampere University of Technology some 30 years ago. Today, Tampere has become an international centre of expertise in the bio-implant area, and Bioretec is one of the companies continuing to push these developments ahead.

Bioretec has focused on developing, producing, and marketing bioresorbable and bioactive surgical implants, and has been the first company anywhere to develop implants that release controlled doses of antibiotics.

The main users for Bioretec’s new-generation products are orthopaedic surgeons operating on the hands or feet. Bioretec’s range also includes advanced products for spinal and cardiothoracic surgery.

Thanks to Bioretec’s biomaterials-based solutions, the time patients need to stay in hospital as part of their treatment can be as much as halved, as bioresorbable implants do not need to be removed.

The company received FDA approval for its ActivaPin™ and ActivaScrew™ fixation systems in 2007. These are based on its patented proprietary Self-Locking SL™ and Auto-Compression™ technologies and are intended for use in repairing and treating a wide range of bone and joint disorders, including fractures and arthritis.

A distribution agreement is already in place with Tornier Inc., a major player in US orthopaedic products, which will market Bioretec’s products under the NexFix™ Resorbable Fixation System brand.

Bioretec is particularly keen to gain access to the US market in this way, as the US is the furthest ahead in using bioresorbable materials in surgical procedures, not least because insurance companies like the way that they can cut hospitalisation times by up to half with the help of this technology.

An antibiotic dimension

The product group in Bioretec’s portfolio to have aroused the most interest is without doubt the world’s first bioresorbable fixing screws that release controlled doses of antibiotics. By doing this very precisely at the site of a fracture and thereby preventing harmful microbial growth on or around an implant, the idea is to reduce the risk of infection more effectively than otherwise possible, particularly for patients most at risk.

Orthopaedic surgery is the largest market for Bioretec’s new-generation products.

Compared to existing metal or more conventional bioresorbable implants, this new controlled drug release-based approach improves the prognosis for rapid and trouble-free patient recovery and also helps cut overall treatment costs. The latter is a particular plus when costs are rising all the time in the health care sector and resources becoming more stretched.

> Pertti Viitanen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)