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Teleflex secures US Army grant to develop anti-biofilm orthopedic device

Teleflex has been awarded a $2.1m research grant from the US Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), located at Fort Detrick, MD.

The award will support research and development of a surface-modified tibial intramedullary nail that combines the Semprus Sustain™ technology with antimicrobial technology.

Up to an additional $2.46 million in funding for the project may be provided under the award, at the U.S. Army’s discretion.

The research will be conducted at Teleflex’s facilities in Cambridge, MA, in conjunction with U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research (USAISR) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX.

This award builds upon an initial $1.1 million TATRC grant awarded to Semprus BioSciences in 2011 to develop the world’s first orthopedic devices designed to reduce biofilm formation.

"Teleflex is pleased to partner with the U.S. Army to develop a solution to an unmet need in orthopedic injuries affecting our wounded men and women in combat," said Benson Smith, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "This award will help enable Teleflex to combine its proprietary Sustain surface modification and antimicrobial solutions to develop a valuable clinical solution to battleground injuries, and we are hopeful that this collaboration will yield greatly improved clinical outcomes for soldiers."

Orthopedic injuries, common in the majority of wounded soldiers, can lead to significant morbidity and failure to return to duty. Initial stabilization with external fixators followed by delayed conversion to intramedullary (IM) nails has become the standard of care for US military personnel.

Despite receiving initial treatment within minutes of being wounded and the rapid evacuation to definitive care, most open fractures test positive for multi-drug resistant bacteria due to the significant amount of soft-tissue damage inflicted by a blast injury. Highly infected wounds can lead to delayed bone union or ultimately require amputation due to infectious complications.

Advancements in the management and prevention of infections associated with orthopedic injuries has significantly improved in recent years with the routine use of debridement techniques, negative pressure wound therapy, prophylactic antibiotics, and bone stabilization.

Despite these improvements, orthopedic infections of up to 30%-40% can occur in traumatic open fractures which are typically treated with fixation devices such as intramedullary nails, plates, and screws.

Therefore, new strategies for preventing infection are needed such as the prevention of bacterial adherence to metal implants, which is a well-documented phenomenon and is considered to be the first step in infection. After adhering to a surface, bacteria may form a biofilm and remain virtually impervious to standard medical treatment including systemic or local antibiotic therapy or debridement.