New procedure for bone tissue replacement

October 30, 2012

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.

Explore further: Smart materials that get bone to heal

Related Stories

Smart materials that get bone to heal

November 4, 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 she and her colleagues ...

Recommended for you

An eye on young specialists' success

December 5, 2016

Graduates from several medical and surgical specialties are having difficulty securing practice opportunities, especially in specialties dependent upon limited resources, according to new research from Queen's ophthalmologist ...

'Halo' effect common after lasik eye surgery

December 3, 2016

(HealthDay)—Nine out of 10 Lasik laser eye surgery patients report satisfaction afterwards. But a sizable percentage experience new visual disturbances—like seeing halos around lights—up to six months after the procedure, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.