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Company insight


Knowledge transfer from veterinary environment to human medicine Joints are complex movement systems that fulfil important anatomical functions. At the Medical Device Competence Center in Birmingham, Alabama, Evonik is pursuing the approach of analysing the weak points of the joint prosthesis systems already established on the market in human medicine, and developing a solution with its high- performance PEEK polymer. “Supported by the knowledge gained from our collaboration with KYON and our many years of materials expertise in polymer design, we are examining the use of VESTAKEEP in human joint prostheses to bring about a significant improvement for the patient,” explains Marc Knebel, head of the medical systems market segment at Evonik. “For example, we have learned to understand PEEK as a material component in complex joint prosthesis systems that can be integrated into existing technologies, according to the modular principle.”


Hip joint replacement operations have long been among the most standard operations. In the group of OECD countries, an average of 182 procedures were performed per 100,000 population in 2017, according to the ‘Health at a Glance 2017’ report. This figure was 30% higher than ten years earlier. The current technologies are convincing in terms of availability and reliability, as well as professional and experienced handling by orthopaedic specialists. “With our PEEK material, we believe we can extend the service life of existing hip systems and thus improve the quality of life for patients,” says Knebel.


Joint prostheses – an innovation scenario In terms of materials or functional requirements, the human hip joint prosthesis barely differs from those used in veterinary orthopaedics. Similarly, the friction partner between the head and the cup anchored in the bone is a primary weak point of current technologies. “Our tribological PEEK biomaterial could make the decisive difference in the future and extend the life of a hip prosthesis fourfold,” says Knebel. If it did, millions of patients worldwide could do without years of pain-relieving therapies.


At the Medical Device Competence Center, Birmingham, Alabama, Evonik is pursuing the approach of analysing the weak points of the joint prosthesis systems already established on the market in human medicine, and developing a solution with the high-performance PEEK polymer.


These are often necessary to reach a certain age for surgery, so the probability of a risky revision at an advanced age can be reduced.


The promising patient perspective and the success story of KYON gives Evonik’s polymer experts the necessary drive to push the PEEK biomaterial for use in human joint prostheses through all regulatory measures with potential partners. The speciality chemicals company’s determination is expressed in its close cooperation with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, US. “We draw on the expertise of medical specialists from the MGH’s globally recognised centre for knee and hip replacement, test our material for tribological properties in their professional laboratories, and receive


Medical Device Developments / www.nsmedicaldevices.com


valuable feedback that always takes us one step further,” explains Kenneth Ross, head of Evonik’s medical technology business in the US. The use of VESTAKEEP PEEK as a material component in human joint prostheses is an innovative scenario and once again demonstrates the possibilities of high-performance materials in modern medicine. If the breakthrough is successful, a new quality in the treatment of hip arthrosis would be available to human medicine. Considering the more than 300 million cases of hip and knee osteoarthritis worldwide in 2017, as published by Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, this would be a significant medical achievement. ●


https://medical.evonik.com/en 107


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