Project involves DCU’s Biodesign Europe and I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, PBC Biomed, an Irish based medtech company and Dolmen Design and Innovation, a DCU Alpha based product design company. 

Dublin City University research centre Biodesign Europe, I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, Irish based medical device company PBC Biomed and product design company Dolmen Design and Innovation are all part of an exciting €5.4 million consortium planning to revolutionise the treatment of complex osteoporotic bone fractures. 

In Europe there are more than three million broken bones each year, a third of which are osteoporotic fractures that are extremely challenging for orthopaedic surgeons to treat and result with a failure rate of 10-15%. The resulting annual fracture-related costs are €45 billion and are expected to increase by 27% by 2030.

Groundbreaking project

The groundbreaking project, OsStic, is aiming to develop and deliver a bioinspired adhesive that will stick broken bone tissue together following an osteoporotic fracture and then facilitate rapid healing and repair of the bone. 

The consortium was awarded €3.4 million in the latest round of funding from the government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) with the remaining €2 million provided by the industry partners. 

Overall, it ranked among 29 projects recently announced as part of the state’s DTIF investment of €95 million over three years driving the development of disruptive technologies in the areas of healthcare, food, factory safety, maritime and construction.

Professor Nicholas Dunne, Executive Director of Biodesign Europe, a transatlantic partnership with ASU’s Biodesign Institute and a Funded Investigator at I-Form will act as the Academic Lead along with colleagues Dr Tanya Levingstone (Biodesign Europe & I-Form) and Professor Helen McCarthy (Biodesign Europe). 

Efficacy of platform technology

The DCU team will provide technical expertise associated with testing and validating the efficacy of the platform technology for use in treating osteoporotic bone fractures and will facilitate technology adoption by positioning the OsStic platform technology at their world-class facilities.

The multimillion-euro project will involve working closely with PBC Biomed, the Shannon based medical device company (also located in Memphis, Tennessee) that is focused on accelerating medical innovation and partners globally with healthcare, professional, academic institutes and medtech companies to bring new technologies in the areas of bone and tissue healing to market.

The development of the bone adhesive will significantly reduce operating times, the risk of infection and reduce the need for hardware in complex osteoporotic fracture treatment. The award will support the expansion of the bone adhesive technology into other clinical benefits such as tissue regeneration and repair.

Dolmen Design and Innovation will bring innovative delivery solutions to the complex application of the bone adhesives in various anatomical settings, in turn reducing the risk and complexity faced by surgeons in the operating rooms. 

Tissue regenerative properties

Professor Nicholas Dunne said: “DCU, Biodesign Europe and I-Form are thrilled to be playing a pivotal role in this exciting challenge-based project that will accelerate the development of the first mechanically compliant bone adhesive with tissue regenerative properties to be applied to orthopaedic surgery for the management and treatment of osteoporotic bone fractures, which affects approximately five million people each year across the world. 

"This interdisciplinary project truly epitomises the ground-breaking scientific discovery and medtech innovation that is taking place in Ireland and has the potential to drastically alter the bone fracture orthopaedic market on a global scale.”

Paul Burke, managing partner at PBC Biomed, highlighted his delight “that PBC Biomed will lead this collaboration in developing a technology which will truly disrupt the treatment of bone repair” and acknowledged the support of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the DTIF Team for supporting this initiative. 

Dr Gerard Insley, chief scientific officer at PBC Biomed, added: “Treating complex bone diseases using biomimetic biomaterials give patients the opportunity for a quicker return to mobility and health. Our goal is to help accelerate healing in osteoporotic patients.”

Deployment and delivery system innovation

Martin Bruggemann, medical design director at Dolmen Design and Innovation, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting consortia, where we will be bringing our expertise in dispense, deployment and delivery system innovation to the fore.

"We have patented award winning solutions in this area for clients around the world for the past 30 years and the opportunity to continue working with such visionaries as the PBC Biomed and DCU teams is what drives us to deliver solutions on a daily basis.”

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a €500 million fund established under the National Development Plan (NDP) in 2018. To date, €235 million has been allocated. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment manages the DTIF with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. 

The purpose of the fund is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry as well as facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and adoption of these technologies.