Aston University: Aston University and Invibio unlock barriers to more advanced fracture fixation devices

Aston University has partnered with Invibio Biomaterial Solutions through a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) to deliver the data and knowledge required to develop more advanced fracture fixation devices used in orthopaedic trauma procedures, using the company’s patented composite material.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified graduate, known as a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is the leading KTP provider within the Midlands.

Invibio is a world leader in the provision of biomaterial solutions and a proven partner to medical device manufacturers with its implantable polyetheretherketone (PEEK)-based materials and composites.

The use of metals such as stainless steel and titanium are widely used for fracture fixation with a strong track record. While these metals remain the predominant materials for orthopaedic fracture fixation, other materials have been developed to address some of the limitations of metal. One such material is PEEK-OPTIMA™ Ultra Reinforced material from Invibio. This material is a composite of continuous carbon fibres within a matrix of PEEK-OPTIMA™ polymer. Clinical studies of devices using this material demonstrate earlier healing, fewer non-unions, improved imaging, and easier removals when compared to metallic implants.

Leading the academic team from Aston University was Dr Laura Leslie, associate professor in Mechanical, Biomedical and Design Engineering and member of the Aston Institute of Materials Research. Her research focuses on biomedical engineering with an emphasis on fracture fixation in orthopaedics. Dr Leslie was joined by Dr Greg Swadener, a specialist in adhesion, composites, biomaterials and biomedical engineering applications, and Dr Sarah Junaid, whose expertise is in fracture fixation, especially musculoskeletal lower limb damage on joint mechanics.

Completing the team as associate was Dr Shiling Zhang, whose work deepened Invibio’s knowledge by creating reference documents and developing test methods and analytical techniques to determine how and what type of debris is generated through the service life of the implant. Dr Zhang completed a review paper and a suite of testing protocols and now works for Invibio as a senior technologist.

Sherri Gambill, trauma technology manager at Invibio, said:

”The KTP has exceeded our expectations and the body of work delivered will be beneficial for years to come.

“The KTP was a wonderful way of building our knowledge and capabilities while opening up a relationship with academia and key opinion leaders that will continue well past the end of the project.”

Dr Laura Leslie, associate professor at Aston University, said:

”The KTP was a fantastic way to support industry while also learning from it.

“Having insights into global challenges and drivers while supporting an important research project has been fascinating.”