Getting stronger: biomaterial-maker curasan is expanding after its bone grafting foam was used in knee surgery.

Author:Saylor, Teri

Divakar Krishnareddy made history at Los Angeles Community Hospital in California earlier this year. He did it while performing a knee arthrodesis procedure. It's the last option for patients whose knee can't be repaired or replaced. Pain relief comes by locking the joint in place. That much was routine. But what made this operation unique was his use of CERASORB Ortho Foam, which is made by Research Triangle Park-based medical biomaterials manufacturer curasan Inc. "This was our first case," says curasan President Shane Ray. "It went really well, and we're now in expansion mode."

CERASORB is a mixture of absorbable bioceramic pellets and pig collagen. The pliable material acts as a scaffold, filling voids in bone created during surgery. The foam is hydrated by the patient's bone marrow. It helps regenerate bone when cells attach to the pellets and multiply They grow stronger over time, filling in the void. The foam is eventually assimilated into the patient's body. "The procedure generally is used wherever a patient needs bone repair," Ray says. "It's often used for spine fusion, or fractures, foot and ankle procedures, and oncology, where you are replacing bones following tumor surgery."

Before CERASORB, orthopedic surgeons had to rely on invasive procedures, such as using metal implants in joint replacements or rods to stabilize serious fractures. They also could harvest bone from other parts of the body such as the pelvis. But many patients don't have enough to fill the need. So over the last 15 years, they have transitioned to minimally invasive procedures. "We're trying to do repairs so the patient doesn't have artificial things inside the body," Ray says. "When we do regenerative repairs, we're actually bringing the body back to its normal state; we're actually healing it."

Demand for orthopedic procedures is expected to grow as baby boomers move into their golden years. North Carolina's population of residents 65 and older made up 13% of the state's population in 2010, according to Carolina Demography, a consulting service at Carolina Population Center at UNC Chapel Hill. It estimates that number will jump to 20% by 2035. Most aren't slowing down as they age, so to keep them active, knees, hips, shoulders and joints will need to be repaired or replaced.

Orthopedic surgeons are CERASORB's target market because they will be the ones using it to treat patients. "Nothing is going to happen unless the surgeon OKs it, but they're not the...

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