Elastic bone cement for those with brittle bones

Hello there, Cecilia Persson, researcher in biomaterials and biomechanics at the Division of Applied Material Science at the Ångström Laboratory and part-owner of the company Inossia. You have invented a new elastic bone cement for spinal fractures. How will it be used?

Cecilia Persson, researcher in biomaterials and
biomechanics. PHOTO: DAVID NAYLOR

“It can improve the treatment of elderly patients with brittle bones. Today, the bone cement that’s injected is mainly an effective pain relief treatment. The problem is that the cement is very stiff in relation to the bone it’s injected into. This easily leads to new fractures next to the old. Brittle vertebrae can be compared to eggshell and today’s cement to stone. We have developed a bone cement that is more sponge-like, more elastic. These mechanical properties will reduce the risk of new fractures.”

What does the actual invention consist of?
“We began with an existing bone cement and added a softener that gives the bone cement some new and different characteristics, of which elasticity is the most important. Product development takes place through the company Inossia, which I founded in 2013 together with my colleague Malin Nilsson.”

How did you come up with the idea of the bone cement?
“We identified a clinical need. Spinal fractures mainly strike elderly people with osteoporosis. In 2010, 400,000 treatments were performed worldwide where bone cement was injected into broken vertebrae. By 2020, that figure is expected to have risen to 1.4 million.”

What is happening right now?
“Inossia has received funding to finance an application for CE marking, among other things. We’re conducting necessary tests. For example, we have to be sure that the material doesn’t degrade when it’s sterilised. We’re also looking at the durability of the material over time by doing mechanical endurance tests. At the same time, we’re setting up a quality assurance system for production where everything will be traceable and documented. We’re also planning on a clinical study. We don’t yet know how large it needs to be.”

What are the greatest challenges ahead?
“It’s a lot of work taking a product from research to clinical use. At the same time, it’s very enjoyable. This autumn, Malin and I participated in a programme that EIT Health arranged to give promising new companies an extra push towards the market. It was really good to be able to discuss the entire process with others for several days. A lot is happening right now. We’re being contacted by the medical technology industry and distributors.”

Lisa Thorsén

10 April 2018