Project Description

Tissue engineering is a rapidly advancing area in the regenerative medicine field. This invention focuses on the development of resorbable soft tissue anchors designed for the reliable attachment of implants (e.g. tissue engineering scaffolds) to soft tissue.

Major advantages over existing solutions include minimal tissue damage, simple insertion and controlled anchor resorption.

Conventional soft tissue anchors resemble screws with an over-sized thread that joins the connector and tissue.

Due to bio-compatibility and strength requirements they are often manufactured from titanium. They usually establish good connectivity with the soft tissue but have not been designed for use with tissue engineered support structures (known as ‘scaffolds’).

Short-comings include:

  • Multiple fixation of a single scaffold is difficult to achieve, as conventional anchors need to be rotated independently of the scaffold
  • The mode of insertion is likely to cause additional damage to the host tissue, which weakens the mechanical bond and retards the formation of new tissue and vascularisation
  • They are usually not degradable so remain permanently inside the body
  • Recent designs make use of non-screw metal anchors that rely on an internal mechanical mechanism to deploy hooks that connect to soft tissue. The activation of this mechanism requires access to the anchor after implantation. This prevents joining the tissue engineering scaffolds prior to implantation.

Inventor

Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Australia.

Dr Fiedler’s Research Expertise are: Cellular Materials (Metals and Ceramics) and Composite Materials, Experimental and Computational Mechanics, Finite Element Methods, Lattice Monte Carlo Methods, and mechanical and thermal material testing.

He collaborates with academic partners in Australia, Germany, Slovenia, Brazil, Malaysia, Spain and Portugal and industrial partners in Germany and Australia.

Patent

An Australian Provisional Patent has been applied.

Features and benefits

The invention describes a novel design of soft tissue anchor that can simply be pushed into the host tissue.

As a result, multiple anchors per scaffold can be used simultaneously to improve connectivity, decrease anchor dimensions and better distribute transmitted loads to the host tissue and scaffold.

The mode of insertion causes less damage to the host tissue and therefore strengthens the mechanical bond and encourages the formation of new tissue and vascularisation.

The degradable components of the anchor dissolve after insertion, minimising the amount of foreign material in the body.

Fast-dissolving encapsulation (similar to pill encapsulation) allows for natural deployment of the anchor’s hooks and does not require access to anchors after implantation. It also allows for joining scaffolds prior to implantation.

Accordingly, the surgical implantation of the scaffold is facilitated and requires less time. In the future this technology will allow doctors to 3D print the anchors to provide personalised treatment to patients.

Market value and size

The global market for tissue engineering and regeneration products reached $55.9 billion in 2010 and is expected to reach $89.7 billion by 2016.

Development stage

Current development involves finalising the anchor design by studying its load impact on soft tissue in 3D modelling software.

A prototype is in development and we seek partners interested in further developing this technology.

Contact innovation@newcastle.edu.au