Like science fiction but real: Artificial material copies the body’s healing system
They have developed a product that repairs broken bones, and that goes from synthetic material to real bone in a year in the body. Swedish Bonesupport’s product Cerament sounds like science fiction, but is real. The company is part of Öhman fonder’s new fund for Nordic medical technology.
It all started with frustrated doctors. Because traditionally, when treating a severe bone injury, for example after a car accident, doctors must start by operating on bone mass from another part of the body, and then use it to repair the damaged bone.
– This means a lot of discomfort for the patient, who finds it difficult to lie down, difficult to take care of their hygiene, and whose body has to heal from another surgical procedure, says Emil Billbäck, CEO of Bonesupport.
In addition, it takes time, and the amputation risk in severe skeletal injuries is still as high as 16 percent despite treatment. In order to create a better situation, orthopedics professor Lars Lidgren began research at the end of the 20th century to develop a synthetic alternative, produced in laboratories, that could heal the skeleton as well as the body’s own materials.
– And he succeeded very well in that. He developed Cerament, which is a truly revolutionary product.
Cerament is a man-made material that copies the body’s natural healing system, and approximately six to twelve months after surgery, Cerament has been completely absorbed by the body and replaced by the body’s own bone.
– Then there is nothing left of our product, but the leg is completely healed and has the same strength and function as before.
The antibiotic is excreted locally
Today, Cerament is present in many European countries, as well as in the important US market. There, Bonesupport has just received approval to use a variant of the product that contains antibiotics.
– In the event of a broken leg in, for example, a car accident, dirt easily gets into the leg, which leads to infections and increases the risk of amputation. With our product, the antibiotic is secreted locally, which reduces the risk of side effects and of antibiotic resistance, since those problems mainly arise among bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
The benefits for the patient are many, but society also benefits from products like Cerament.
– A large British study showed that over a two-year period, severely injured patients treated with Cerament had a total of 17 fewer days in hospital compared to traditional treatment. This means a large social economic saving.
The same thing has been determined by American authorities, and Bonesupport is not the only medical technology company that is expected to reduce society’s costs of care.
– With an aging population, society’s healthcare costs are rising, some analyzes show that it could become much more expensive. But with the development of new technology as a complement to traditional care, society can significantly reduce this increase in costs, says Viktor Elmsjö, manager of Öhman Fonder’s new fund Öhman Hälsa och Ny Teknik, which invests in innovative healthcare companies.
“A great driving force”
He himself has a background in biomedicine, and states that there are a great many of this type of company in the Nordics, above all in Sweden.
– Here is the teacher exception, a rule that says that researchers employed at universities themselves own the right to commercialize their research results, something that provides a great driving force.
One of the companies included in the new medical technology fund is precisely Bonesupport, and in total the fund currently has 32 holdings. The idea is that that figure should be between 30 and 60, of which 70 percent must come from the Nordics. Because the geographical proximity is very important according to Viktor Elmsjö.
– With that perspective, we can be extremely close to the companies, which is super important in an industry where there is an incredible amount of new research data all the time.
The article is produced by Brand Studio in collaboration with Öhman Fonder and not an article by Dagens industri