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Bioresorbable Mesh Targets Rotator Cuff Repairs

Bioresorbable Mesh Targets Rotator Cuff Repairs

Baseball pitchers and other athletes with rotator cuff injuries may benefit from a new surgical material made from renewable plastics.

Implant specialist Tornier is launching a bioresorbable surgical mesh for the repair of rotator cuff and other tendon and ligament injuries.

Under development by Tornier for over three years, BioFiber Surgical Mesh is distinguished by its mesh design and polymer composition. It's a proprietary three-dimensional structure designed to provide a strong, but flexible scaffold for cell migration and enhanced healing.

The fibers of the mesh are made from a new class of proprietary resorbable polymers based on polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) chemistry. Developed by Tornier's corporate partner, Tepha Medical Devices of Lexington, MA, the PHA family of resorbable polymers are characterized by strength, flexibility and tissue compatibility that is ideal for a broad range of implantable medical devices.

The bioplastic is an aliphatic polyester produced by bacteria that process glucose or starch. Properties are similar to polypropylene.

Tepha's biomaterials are produced by proprietary transgenic fermentation processes, similar to those used to produce biopharmaceuticals. Metabolix, also a sister company, is the world's largest producer of PHAs. There are two producers in China and one in Italy, according to BCC Research.

"Surgery for the re-attachment of tendons or ligaments to bone, such as a rotator cuff repair, can be associated with a later re-tear at the attachment site, especially in patients with compromised healing function," says John W. Sperling, MD and professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. "BioFiber's unique mesh design and its biocompatible resorbable polymer composition provide an ideal scaffold to support healing at these surgical attachment sites."

Degradation rates of Tepha's PHA biomaterials range from a few weeks to approximately one year. Tornier introduced its new technology at the 30th annual meeting of the Arthroscopic Association of North America (AANA) held in San Francisco.

The BioFiber Surgical Mesh is part of Tornier's expanding line of biologic products for upper and lower extremity surgeons, including the Conexa Reconstructive Tissue Matrix that has been in clinical use since 2008.

Tornier is a global medical device company focused on serving extremities specialists who treat orthopedic conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, ankle and foot. The company was formed in the 1940s, and was acquired by venture capital companies in 2006.

Tornier had sales of $227.4 million in 2010 compared to sales of $201.5 million in 2009. In February, the company completed its initial public offering, raising approximately $155 million.

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