Evonik has invested in a start-up company that has developed a high-tech leg-lengthening implant that uses Vestakeep PEEK.
Via its venture capital arm, Germany’s Evonik Industries has invested in and holds a minority share in the start-up company SYNOSTE Oy, based in Dusseldorf and Helsinki, Finland. A 2012 spin-off of Finland’s Aalto University, SYNOSTE, together with Finland’s Orton hospital which specializes in orthopedics, developed a high-tech implant that utilizes Evonik’s Vestakeep PEEK, for a minimally invasive treatment of leg-length discrepancy.
This condition, which can lead to chronic back pain and osteoarthritis in the long term, has traditionally been treated with a method that involves the use of an external fixator—a construction made of steel which is fixed to the bone and the outside of the leg. This standard method both poses the risk of infection and is also painful and uncomfortable. Some 30,000 people per year seek treatment for this condition.
The SYNOSTE implant is similar to an intramedullary nail and is fixed to the bone after the bone has been cut. During the treatment period, which lasts for several months, it is extended in small increments of 0.5 millimeters, like a telescope, by electromagnetic means. This causes fresh bone substance to steadily form between two halves of the bone. Using this method, it is possible to increase the length of the bone by several centimeters.
An advantage of the SYNOSTE implant is its high mechanical stability. The company has aimed to allow patients to bear full weight on their leg at an early stage in the treatment process. Also, it significantly reduces the risk of infection compared to a fixator, and requires shorter hospitalization.
Due to its excellent mechanical properties and biocompatibility, Vestakeep PEEK is well established in implant, dental and medical technologies. “By investing in SYNOSTE, we hope to open up a new, extremely innovative applications for Vestakeep PEEK and enhance our business and expertise in the field of medical technology,” says Matthias Kottenhahn. Moreover, he notes that the SYNOSTE implant technology also offers potential for deformities in arms, fingers and toes as well as spine and craniomaxillofacial surgery.