Patients with persistent knee pain after meniscus removal can participate at three sites in the Netherlands in the AIR2 study by ATRO Medical, a spin-off of the Radboudumc and DSM. The study aims to reduce pain and improve knee mobility through meniscus reconstruction. Ten patients can participate in the study of the new procedure under strict conditions.
Meniscus replacement is performed via keyhole surgery in which a new meniscus is placed where the patient's own meniscus was previously located. This new Trammpolin® meniscus prosthesis is made of high quality plastic and is the new shock absorber in the affected knee. Patients who register at one of the three participating hospitals - Sint Maartenskliniek, MUMC+ and Haaglanden Medisch Centrum - will be assessed on the required criteria for participation. For example, only adults between the ages of 18 and 70 whose inner meniscus has previously been partially or completely removed can participate. After placement of the meniscus prosthesis, two years of periodic checkups and examination follow.
In 2019, the first application of meniscus reconstruction in humans did not go entirely to plan. Orthopedist Tony van Tienen: "We saw too little improvement in function in the first patients: the knee remained stiff after implantation. Unfortunately the meniscus prosthesis had to be removed again in a number of patients. Fortunately there was no further damage to the inside of the knee and patients continued in the usual care path. But the initial complaints were still there. So the solution we would have liked to offer had not yet been realized."
Startup ATRO Medical
Replacing a meniscus doesn't happen overnight. This is evident from the fact that nearly ten years of research were required prior to the first study. ReumaNederland was one of the first initiators of this research and still supports it. Most of the preclinical research was done at the Radboudumc, mostly under the supervision of Tony van Tienen. He and Jan Hunik set up the startup ATRO Medical to get the Trammpolin meniscus prosthesis to patients.
Even more extensive testing
CEO Jan Hunik speaks of a great opportunity and challenge. "In Europe, more than 400,000 patients with persistent knee pain after meniscus removal are waiting for a surgical solution that can reduce their pain. But first we need to prove in small studies that the prosthesis provides long-term pain relief. After the previous study, the design was changed and we tested our meniscus prosthesis even more extensively than before. The implant meets all the set requirements, but how much function improvement this actually gives patients will only really become clear in practice."
ATRO Medical is a spin-out of DSM and Radboudumc. Patients interested in participating in the AIR2 study will find more information here.