Essen, Germany-based Evonik Venture Capital has invested in CircumFix Solutions Inc. a start-up based in Tennessee that has developed a new sternal closure device to aid in patient recovery after open-chest surgery.
The patented orthopedic device, made of a polymer from Evonik that naturally degrades inside the body, closes and holds the sternum together after surgery.
"We are seeing a revolution in implantable medical devices with the shift from metal to high-performance polymers and this investment supports that shift," Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital said in a Feb. 17 news release.
Evonik's material used in the closure device is an implant-grade polyether etherketone (PEEK).
"The material is biocompatible, not harmful or toxic to living tissue, and bio-inert. It doesn't initiate a response from the body," the release said.
The material repels water, significantly reducing the chance of infection and is transparent to X-rays so it doesn't interfere with post-surgical diagnostics, it said.
The investment will allow Evonik to "reach U.S. clinical experts in orthopedics, many of whom are less aware of PEEK as an alternative to titanium and stainless steel," Marc Knebel, head of Medical Systems at Evonik said in the release. It "will deepen our relationships across the medical technology industry and with engineering companies."
Evonik declined to comment on the cost of the investment in response to inquiry by Plastics News.
CircumFix's device is made up of a slender chest plate placed on the sternum, held in place by fasteners that circle the sternum, fixed to the plate.
It allows for even "load sharing" between the bones and device and restricts motion, which increases stability and reduces pain, the release said.
"Surgeons can close the sternum faster and more easily than with traditional devices," it said. "Should a further operation be needed the device can be quickly reopened and closed again. It is safe and comfortable as a permanent implant."
PEEK is currently used in spine, skull, jaw and face surgery and orthopedics. It has "high potential" in other medical applications, the release said.
"We are making great progress towards the goal of improving patient recovery," Louis Houff, co-founder and CEO of CircumFix said in the release. "With support from Evonik, we will be able to further drive business development forward."