There is always room for improvement, and orthopaedic implants still have a way to go in materials development. Some of these opportunities to make implants better will be discussed at this year’s OrthoTec conference
in Warsaw, IN in June.
When working with new materials, there are three main challenges—biocompatibility, regulation, and cost, according to Robert Hastings, director of research at DePuy Orthopaedics. Hastings is chairing the OrthoTec panel, “New Materials Technology and Applications” on June 6.
Biocompatibility. How do you determine the safety of biocompatibility of a material? When working with novel materials, manufacturers must assume a level of risk. “We just can’t predict and understand [exactly] what kinds of tests we would need to run on certain materials or products,” Hastings says. “As we continue to evolve, we become better at coming up with test methods, and biocompatibility, animal studies, etc. that allow us to better understand the [material’s] behavior.”
Cost. As manufacturers experience global price pressures, they are challenged to maintain a high level of performance and quality at a lower cost.
Regulation. “As the regulatory organizations around the world start to think twice about how they’re approving products for the market, the challenge is how do we work with them to figure out the best way to understand how these materials and products behave and allow them on the market without completely shutting everything down,” says Hastings.
In a nutshell, the panel will provide an overview of a new opportunities and exciting materials for orthopaedic devices. There are some developments in the following key areas, so you won’t want to miss out on this session. Here are some of the topics:
- Soft materials, including hydrogels in cartilage replacement. “The orthopaedics industry has never successfully conquered [the] ability to use a man-made or artificial material for the replacement of the softer structures in the musculoskeletal system—meaning cartilage,” says Hastings. “We’ve had some tendon replacement and ligament replacement, but all of those have issues.” Presenter: Gavin Braithwaite, vice president of research at Cambridge Polymer Group Inc.
- New opportunities in porous structures for biological fixation. Presenter: Janet Krevolin, PhD, vice president of orthopaedic development at Bio2 Technologies.
- Bioabsorbable materials. “When I started in orthopaedics 25 years ago, we were just beginning to look at absorbable materials,” says Hastings. “They’ve become a standard of the industry, but they have unique properties that I think industry or orthopaedic companies, suppliers tend to shy away from because they’re more complicated to manage than polyethylene or a metal alloy.” Presentation by: Purac.
- The world of PEEK and addressing the challenges in arthroplasty. “ I think we’re on the verge of starting to see it be successful in the use in total joint replacement in a variety of forms,” says Hastings. “We’ve had polyethylene wear debris issues for many years and as we’ve improved that through crosslinking, second-generation, and third-generation material; we’re getting to the point where some of these materials such as PEEK could be very effective possibly in doing the same thing.” Presenter: Adam Briscoe, PhD, product development project manager at Invibio.
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