opmOxford Performance Materials is one of my favorite cutting edge companies to report on. With their expert use of a highly advanced molecule called poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK), they just keep making headlines, and this time they are receiving a $150,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With a penchant for meeting specific performance requirements in biomedical devices, OPM will use the funds for the research and development of applications using PEKK to improve infections related to artificial hips, knees, and other implanted devices.

Medical devices and implants are commonly used in medicine to help individuals with replacements, support, and enhancements. These devices and procedures are meant to greatly improve quality of life — and sometimes save it. They might be made of biomedical materials, utilize electronics, or work to deliver medication. There are a number of different infections that can occur, offering complication in what should be an otherwise positive experience. The NIH wants to find better ways to treat these infections when they do occur, to keep patients on the positive healing path they and their doctors originally outlined.

The NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) wants to further development of implants that can take care of the issue right at the source of the internal problem, focusing on delivery of antibiotics directly to the infection with the use of OPM’s 3D printed PEKK implants. While there are implants on the market that can deliver antibiotics, the NIH is looking for an antibiotic-delivering implant that will allow more expedient and efficient methods of curing post-procedure infections, reducing pain and suffering to patients and opening the door to new approaches.

Adam Hacking

Dr. Adam Hacking

The office of Adam Hacking, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at OPM is handling these funds for research involving treatment of infection through applying PEKK implants. The program also involves experts in infectious disease, orthopedic surgery, chemical engineering, fluid dynamics, and biomedical engineering from the Department of Orthopedics at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University.

“We are extremely grateful for the NIH support, as well as the peer reviewed process that recognized the magnitude of the clinical problem and the potential for advancement that our approach offers,” said Dr. Hacking. “Device related infections are a burdensome clinical issue that results in prolonged patient suffering, increased mortality, and are expected to cost $12 billion per year by 2015. With this support from the NIH, we have the potential to rapidly advance treatment for bone and joint infections, reduce healthcare costs, reduce patient suffering and improve patient care.”

“3D printing has enabled the combination of a load-bearing implantable material, PEKK, with the simplicity, flexibility and availability of perfusable drug delivery systems. Perfusion is a desirable approach since nearly all therapeutics are deliverable in solution. Perfusion also enables the initiation, change, cessation or restoration of therapeutic delivery at any point in time.”

PEKK is a high-performance chemical, which OPM has become an expert in using and has employed for overcoming previous limits and challenges in a versatile number of areas. Their mission is to make an impact, and the NIH obviously has great faith in their track record, as they specialize in the areas of biomedical devices, biomedical raw materials, and 3D printed industrial parts.

Raw_material_-_arr2Have you been following OPM in the latest 3D printing news? Share your thoughts on this latest news on medical research and 3D printing in the OPM Grant forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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