New procedure for bone tissue replacement

A Simon Fraser University technology MBA graduate has developed a new procedure for bone tissue engineering and plans to use his newfound business acumen to take the research to the next level.

Andre Wirthmann's research aims to benefit patients with bone defects who would normally require a conventional bone augmentation procedure. The process takes a small sample of the patient's tissue and grows it into a larger piece of bone, which is then implanted back into the patient.

As a result of the patient's own cells being used, there is no chance of the patient's body rejecting the tissue.

Wirthmann, who graduated from SFU's Beedie School of Business this month, developed the procedure after completing a PhD in physics at the University of Hamburg. "I wanted to turn my research into a business, but with a purely academic background, I was unsure how to go about it," says Wirthmann, who was invited to apply to the Management of Technology (MOT) MBA program at SFU.

The idea was the brainchild of Wirthmann's father, Axel Wirthmann, an oral surgeon in Wirthmann's native Germany, who specializes in . Wirthmann has been working on the research along with his father for several years, splitting his time between Hamburg and Vancouver.

Wirthmann says bone is considered to become the second type of tissue to be engineered, after skin, and before more complex organs like kidneys.

Current bone replacement techniques involve either implanting synthetic or bone tissue derived from animals, which can run the risk of to the patient and delayed healing time, or an autologous transplant, where bone is taken from another area of the patient's body.

"The new approach does not have any of these drawbacks," says Wirthmann. "It provides the best possible bone augmentation material and the opportunity to heal fractures which do not grow back together, which are difficult or impossible to heal with current technology."

The process has potential to be applied in many situations, such as bone fractures that do not heal correctly, injuries and accidents that result in bone defects and also in oral surgery.

At present the cost of growing the is too high to apply the procedure in hospitals, but Wirthmann is currently looking into several different approaches to bring the cost down and allow the technology to be applied in clinical application.

He says the process will save a vast amount of resources needed over long healing times and in below-par healing results, which result in increased costs to the healthcare system.

Wirthmann recently set up his own company, IncuBone Laboratories Inc. and is in the process of searching for scientists and engineers, sourcing funding and setting up partnerships to commercialize the technology.

The Beedie School's MOT MBA is designed to prepare technology industry professionals to handle the business problems faced by their companies, and entrepreneurs in the technology sector seeking to bring a business idea to fruition.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smart materials that get bone to heal

Nov 04, 2011

Bone tissue is very good at self-healing, but in many situations the natural healing process is not sufficient. In a dissertation at Uppsala University, Sonya Piskounova shows how functional materials that ...

Smashing the time it takes to repair our bones

Dec 04, 2006

New research by Queensland University of Technology is helping scientists better understand how bone cells work and may one day lead to the development of technology that can speed up the time it takes to heal fractured and ...

Researcher develops bioreactor for cultivation of bone cells

May 31, 2010

A new bioreactor system for cultivating bone cells reduces the number of actions that need to be taken in the process, and so lowers the cost of tissue culture. Frank Janssen of the University of Twente (The Netherlands) ...

Cell injections accelerate fracture healing

Feb 12, 2009

Long bone fractures heal faster after injections of bone-building cells. Research published in the open access journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders has shown that osteoblast cells cultured from a patient's own bone marrow ...

Recommended for you

Factors ID'd that influence lack of orthopedic follow-up

Oct 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—For patients treated in the emergency department, orthopedic-related and demographic variables influence failure to return for outpatient management ("no-show"), according to a study published ...

Surgery may not fix long-term palsy of spine disease

Oct 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—Duration of palsy should be considered when selecting candidates for surgical management of painless foot drop in patients with degenerative lumbar disorders, according to research published ...

User comments