16 July 2020

An international consortium led by ATRO Medical, a spin-off of Radboudumc and DSM, will receive € 800,000 European funding for an innovation aimed at patients with knee osteoarthritis. These patients often suffer from cartilage wear due to a meniscus that no longer works properly. The consortium, which further consists of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory (ORL) of the Radboudumc and the Swiss company Samaplast, will develop the first sustainable meniscus prosthesis to replace the outer meniscus.

Knee osteoarthritis is one of the major causes of disability worldwide. Loss of meniscus tissue in young years can accelerate this disease and lead to symptoms such as chronic knee pain, stiffness and restricted movement. For many patients, total knee replacement is ultimately the last resort. The Dutch orthopaedic startup ATRO Medical wants to create a solution for the years of pain that precedes a new knee.
Outer meniscus
The new meniscus prosthesis should serve as a new shock absorber in the knee, reducing bone-to-bone contact and reducing pain in the knee joint. A first version of this implant has been made for the inner meniscus. It is currently being tested in the first patients after ten years of research. However, there is still no solution for the outer meniscus. Forty percent of the complaints are related to problems with this outer meniscus.
Rapid development
The consortium of ATRO Medical, the Swiss company Samaplast and the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory (ORL) of the Radboudumc will receive €800,000 from EUROSTARS as a contribution to the total investment of €2 million to accelerate the development of this solution. Jan Hunik, CEO of Atro Medical: "The goal is to have this innovation ready for a clinical trial with patients within two years. Both the replacement of the worn out exterior meniscus by a wear-resistant plastic and the short development time of this project would be unique in the world of orthopaedics".
Consortium partner ORL of the Radboudumc has been involved in meniscus research as a biomechanical expert for many years and was already part of the team that wrote the first patents for meniscus replacement. Dennis Janssen, head of experimental research at ORL: "After the earlier successful development of the inner meniscus prosthesis, this EUROSTARS grant gives us the opportunity to apply our expertise to the outer meniscus as well. This project is therefore a nice and logical continuation of our joint work".
The Swiss partner Samaplast specialises in the manufacture of high quality and medical plastic products. Consortium leader ATRO Medical is a spin-off of the Radboudumc and DSM and focuses on the development of sustainable meniscus prostheses. Together, the parties have the expertise to quickly develop the new meniscus prosthesis with the EUROSTARS financing.

EUROSTARS supports international innovative projects led by R&D performing SMEs such as ATRO Medical. This EU programme aims to increase value creation within Europe, economic growth and employment.
ATRO Medical is a spin-off of DSM and Radboudumc with branches in Nijmegen and Oss (NL).

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