Market analysts expect that in the next few years, growth in the geriatric population, specifically in Asia, will create a higher demand for regenerative medicine, namely orthobiologics-related technology such as bone grafting, spinal infusions and cartilage implants. Other factors such as obesity-related bone diseases, sedentary lifestyles and spurts in the number of sports-related injuries are also contributing to higher demand in the orthobiologics market.
Orthobiologics is a rapidly advancing field that uses biomaterials such as bone tissue, platelet-rich plasma, growth factors and stem cells to promote healing. By empowering the body to repair and regenerate itself, orthobiologic treatments offer exciting alternatives to traditional orthopaedic options.
“The field of orthobiologics is one of the most exciting advances in modern medicine that’s being used to cure injuries. These treatments look to heal damage, rather than cutting it out or prescribing medication to cover the pain,” says Adeline Tan, Country Manager of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA).
A key focus of the NFIA is the life sciences and health sector, designated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs as one of the top sectors to address global societal challenges in terms of disease prevention, improving quality of life, and restraining healthcare costs for at-risk populations.
The efficacy of orthobiologics has made it a dynamic and transformative force in medical science, with innovations introduced in recent years presenting themselves as viable alternatives to the ways in which orthopaedic conditions have been treated. Products based on stem cell are gaining broad acceptance, while the use of synthetic bone substitutes will become a key trend as it minimises risks of infection transmission to a negligible level.
With the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, orthobiologics companies continue seeking improved ways to harness the restorative capabilities of the body’s cells so as to quicken bone repair. These less invasive innovations offer patients greater customisation of treatments, minimal side effects, and shorter recovery times. For surgeons and patients, such bone healing options have become attractive considerations as clinically proven and less expensive therapies and tools.
3D Bone Implants
Japanese firm Next21 recently signed a deal with Xilloc, a Dutch medical company, to bring CT-Bone® into European hospitals. Using an inkjet 3D printing process, doctors can now offer patients customised bone implants to assist in bone regeneration.
Maikel Beerens, CEO at Xilloc explains, “3D Printing with CT-Bone allows us to help even more patients with a tailor-made solution. After taking a CT-scan of the patient, a patient-specific implant is designed by our biomedical engineers in collaboration with the surgeon. This design perfectly fits on the anatomy of the patient, ensuring good bone-to-implant contact and facilitating bone ingrowth.”
Given the 3D printer’s ability to print with an accuracy down to 0.1mm, patients can expect bone implants of precise geometry and controlled porosity. Implants can easily be inserted with no further reshaping of bone or implant required, while also promoting enhanced fusion to a patient’s own bone.
Tests done on animals suggest that this method of bone healing could be further accelerated with the added application of commonly used collagen, stem cells and growth factors.
Repair and Regeneration
Similarly recognising the limitations of current standard treatments for bone defects and fractures is Kuros Biosciences, a Swiss company focusing on bone healing innovation, namely tissue repair and regeneration. Its products, KUR-111 and KUR-113, can easily be applied to fracture sites and left to polymerize in situ without significant bio-compatibility concerns. Directly administered as a paste into fracture voids, KUR-111 is designed to take on the shape of the defect and forms a perfect graft substitute that effectively augments the healing process. KUR-113 is also applied directly into fracture gaps, forming a gel-like material that infiltrates fracture sites without disturbing the surrounding tissue.
For even less invasive bone healing treatments, patients can now look to devices used externally. Developed by Bioventus, headquartered in the Netherlands, the EXOGEN® Ultrasound Bone Healing System utilises ultrasound waves to activate cells near a fracture site, thus triggering the processes critical to bone repair. Daily use of the system has demonstrated the healing of 86% of stubborn-to-heal non-union bone fractures and accelerated mending of an indicated broken tibia or radius by 38% (equivalent to several weeks of recovery time). Each 20-minute session with the EXOGEN® is a safe, painless experience. As the machine can be operated at home, this therapy can easily fit into a patient’s daily schedule, with fewer hospital visits.
Immense Potential for Asia
The emergence of orthobiologics signals a paradigm shift amongst clinicians, encouraging mindsets that focus on delaying or deterring the onset of diseases as opposed to merely providing temporary and symptomatic relief. As Asia prepares for an unprecedented rise in its geriatric population and their associated orthopaedic problems, innovative technologies that ensure ongoing care and the sustained prevention of further bone debilitation amongst the elderly are crucial.
“In the Netherlands, innovative technologies in biotech and medical engineering are being piloted frequently. Initiatives that have proven successful can be expanded and applied in Asia,” Ms Tan says.
With exciting prospects clearly in sight, it should be interesting to see how quickly these new technologies can be adopted and integrated into operating rooms and homes all across Asia.
Under the purview of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), provides complimentary advice and consultations to foreign companies planning to establish, expand or diversify their business interests in the Netherlands and Europe. For more information, contact: Ms Adeline Tan, Country Manager at Tel: +65 6739 1137, Email: email@example.com or visit www.investinholland.com