Israeli start-up develops meniscus replacement of tomorrow

The next iteration of the company’s current implant will act as floating replacement for the natural meniscus.

 The NUsurface device, ready to make its way into a deserving knee somewhere (photo credit: PR)
The NUsurface device, ready to make its way into a deserving knee somewhere
(photo credit: PR)

Knees are one of the many parts of the human body that seem like they just weren’t built to handle all of this “walking around upright, working out and running” stuff. As such, a sizable portion of the human population suffers from damaged meniscus tissue, typically resulting in surgery to adjust or replace the tissue and get everything working up to snuff.

Often, however, that kind of knee surgery requires days of recovery time as the body heals and adapts to the adjusted area - but that may not be the case forever.

Active Implants is a med-tech start-up developing a new iteration of their currently-available artificial meniscus replacement, NUsurface. The company’s device is the first in the world to substitute the natural human meniscus, sitting between the bones of the knee and acting as a sort of pillow to prevent grinding, rubbing and other uncomfortable friction.

"Floating device"

The upcoming generation of the technology is what’s referred to as a “floating device,” meaning that it is constructed in such a way that it isn’t required to be anchored or sutured into place.

As a result, explained Active Implants international president Dr. Eran Ganz, “It’s a very simple and easy procedure to do for the surgeons and also for the patient.” Recovery time is severely reduced, and the new generation of the device will offer two additional legs up on its competition: timed drug release and specifically tailored device dimensions to match the patient’s body.

“In addition to the ability to produce a patient-specific implant, it will also release two drugs – one immediately after the implantation, and the other over several months. This will contribute to an immediate improvement in the patient’s well-being while preventing inflammations as well as cartilage degeneration,” explained Ganz.

“In addition to the ability to produce a patient-specific implant, it will also release two drugs – one immediately after the implantation, and the other over several months. This will contribute to an immediate improvement in the patient’s well-being while preventing inflammations as well as cartilage degeneration.”

Dr. Eran Ganz

The device’s benefits have positioned it as a viable solution for meniscus surgery patients in the middle-aged demographic, for whom the practical viability of a more invasive surgery is much less than it might be for someone in their youth.

On November 6, a delegation of experts, doctors and senior managers directly involved in various aspects of the device’s development arrived in Israel on behalf of the European Union and its Horizon 2020 project for medical innovation, in order to experience the final stages of development of the next generation of the implant, which is expected to be commercially active within a few years.

“There is an enormous unmet need in the management of post-meniscectomy knee osteoarthritis in terms of treatment and especially prevention. The project demonstrates a huge ambition to address those needs, by developing novel technologies to treat young patients, as well as older patients who have already developed post-meniscectomy OA,” noted Prof. Elizaveta Kon, MD, a delegation member from the Italian Humanitas University, and president of the International Cartilage Regeneration and Joint Preservation Society.

“Much work is still ahead of us,” said Ganz. “But there is no doubt that we are at an important milestone in our journey to constantly improve the current technology, in order to continue helping many patients around the world.”