By Johanna Weiss, NoCamels.com
Israeli company Regenecure is developing an intelligent “wrapping paper” that enables broken bones to heal faster, more smoothly, and even compensate bone loss.
In medical terminology, this wrapping paper is called membrane implant. “Membranes in general are semi-selective materials, allowing certain materials to get through, but not others,” says CEO Moshe Tzabari.
When the Regenecure membrane is wrapped around the broken bone, it allows fluids to get through, but prevents cells, vigor, or soft tissue from getting to the bone. This feature is crucial for the healing process.
Tzabari explains: “If there is no barrier, soft tissue will infiltrate the wound and stop the bone from growing or make it grow in unintended ways.” The membrane implant is a transparent, thin-yet-strong material that looks like plastic wrap. However, the membrane is regenerative and can be sutured, drilled, and shaped into any geometrical form. Moreover, it attracts stem cells to grow and populate along the membrane surface.
The material, which comes from Germany, has been used in the past as a drug delivery system – to cover tablets that are not meant to dissolve in the stomach but only to take effect later. Michael Friedman, Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered that the same material can be used to enable guided bone growth after fractures. The membrane implant can assist, and sometimes replace, traditional healing methods, he explains.
Comparative research has been done with sheep that suffered from fractures with high bone loss. Treated with splints only, these fractures never healed. With an additional bone-graft substitute, it took bones 28 weeks to heal. When the membrane implant was combined with the bone-graft substitute, complete healing took only 8–14 weeks.
When vets heard about the membrane implant, they started using the product in dogs and sheep.
In the dental field, the membrane implant will enable bone growth that is needed for teeth implants. Tzabari hopes the implant might even be used in cranial medicine, for example, to reconstruct face bones after serious accidents.