Plastic ‘PoreStar’ implants changing the face of surgery

We partnered with Australian medical devices company Anatomics to develop a new polyethylene implant, specifically designed for repairing and augmenting bones in the head, skull and face.

The Challenge

Implants used in reconstructive surgery can be inflexible

Australians spend more than $1 billion each year on surgical procedures and treatments, with liposuction, breast augmentation and rhinoplasty topping the list. While many of these are elective surgeries that don't treat a medical condition, reconstructive surgery is a vital part of recovery from traumatic accidents, aggressive tumour removal, or other debilitating situations.

Surgical implants used in these procedures are often made from non-porous, inflexible materials that can't be shaped or moulded once surgeons are in the operating theatre. This can be challenging when surgery involves the highly individual features of a face.

Porestar has an open pore structure that resembles real bone © Anatomics

Our Response

Applying new processes to a known material

We joined forces with Australian medical devices company Anatomics to develop a new type of polyethylene, or plastic, implant specifically designed for repairing and augmenting bones in the highly individualised features of the head, skull and face.

The team began by using a known material in polyethylene, which has a history of being approved for use in the human body. They then took inspiration from manufacturing processes used in structural fibres and mouldings and biomedical scaffolds.

The Results

A new plastic implant with more bone-like features

The new implant, called PoreStar, the first in a new class of implant material with bone-like architecture. It's named after the star shaped particle used in its manufacturing process to create an open pore structure that resembles real bone.

The higher porosity of PoreStar means it's more malleable and flexible, so surgeons can actually shape and mould the implants in the operating theatre.

The implants are designed from 3D CT scans, so they're customised for individual patients, which can improve surgical outcomes.

As a result of the new product, Anatomics has set up a manufacturing facility for the implants in Melbourne.

The team is now looking toward the opening of the Biomedical Materials Transformation Facility a $46 million initiative that will bring our researchers together with Monash University and 20 industry partners to focus on taking biomedical products from the bench to prototype, and ultimately to market.

Extreme makeover for surgical implants

Show transcript

[Image appears of pinpoints of light and text appears: ‘Energy, Agriculture, Water, Mining, Pharmaceutical, Wireless, Mobility, Metallurgy, Materials, Networking, Auto, Engineering, Aviation’]

[Pinpoints of light resolve into a sphere and text appears: ‘Innovative Victorian Technologies, Department of State Development, Business and Innovation’]

[Music plays and text appears:  ‘Medical Science’]

[Images flash through of models of the top of a skull]

[Image appears of two employees working on a computer]

Narrator: Anatomics is a Melbourne based biotechnology and medical device company manufacturing surgical implants for surgeons locally and around the world. 

[Images flash through of models of the top of a skull]

[Image changes to show Andrew Batty, CEO, Anatomics]

[Image changes to show surgeons in an operating theatre and images flash through of reconstruction materials]

Andrew Batty: Anatomics manufactures medical devices and surgical implants that neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons, oral max. facial surgeons would use to reconstruct patients after trauma and cancer.  A lot of anatomics products that we manufacture are custom made or patient specific. 

[Image changes to show Andrew Batty CEO Anatomics]

These implants are derived from the patient’s own C.T. scan.

[Images flash through of reconstruction materials attached to a revolving skull]

[Image changes to show a piece of PoreStar being held in the fingers]

Anatomics manufactures surgical implants from a range of materials and they include acrylic, titanium and more recently porous polyethylene which is a new product that we’ve launched for PoreStar.

[Camera zooms in on a revolving piece of bone and then images of Benchmark, Trabecular and PoreStar appear]

PoreStar is a porous polyethylene surgical implant that has bone like architecture.

[Image changes to show a PoreStar implant on a revolving model skull]

The architecture results from having a star shaped particle that creates a implant that’s very similar to trabecular bone. 

[Image changes to show an implant on a detailed skull model and then images flash through of an employee using the computer]

Porous polyethylene has a long history of clinical use and allows tissue integration from bone to integrate into the implant which makes it a very bio compatible material. 

[Image changes to show PoreStar being moulded into shape and then the camera zooms in on an employee placing the implant via the computer screen]

It’s much more malleable and is much more user friendly in the operating theatre and we needed to engage the services of CSIRO to research and develop the technology to manufacture PoreStar.

[Image changes to show Mike O’Shea, Team Leader, CSIRO]

[Images flash through of revolving polyethylene, trabecular bone and PoreStar]

Mike O’Shea: What we actually did with PoreStar we took a known material in polyethylene which has a history in being approved for implants in the human body, took some inspiration from manufacturing processes that are used in different industries and we are taking essence and aspects of those and combining them together in a new way.  So we came up with a innovative manufacturing process.

[Image changes to show PoreStar being bent and moulded in the fingers]

Using some of our learnings in fibres and moulding we were able to develop a product that had higher porosity and which gave, in the end, PoreStar its’ unique properties and its’ malleability and toughness.

[Image changes to show a surgeon working with PoreStar in an operating theatre]

It also gave the properties that the surgeons actually like, that they can actually shape and mould and carve out parts for new product. 

[Image changes to show a woman’s face marked for cosmetic surgery]

Narrator: PoreStar can also be used in the augmentation or aesthetic market.

[Image changes to show revolving skull models with implants attached]

There’s a growing trend in this sector where patients are now wanting to change their appearance and PoreStar’s an ideal product for this. 

[Image changes to show an employee and Andrew Batty measuring a model skull]

Andrew Batty: Having PoreStar in our product portfolio in one of the materials we manufacture from opens up new export markets for us in various countries. 

[Image changes to show PoreStar being worked with]

It’s a new way of manufacturing.  It’s a new way of developing a product and getting a product to market. 

[Image changes to show Andrew Batty]

We love technology.  We think it’s fantastic and anything we can do to bridge the gap to get where we want to be it’s great.  PoreStar is manufactured in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and that’s the thing that we’re most proud about.

[Music plays and State Government of Victoria logo and text appears: ‘This Project Received Funding Support through the Victorian Government Department of State Development, Business and Innovation, Department of State Development Business and Innovation’]

[Text appears: ‘Anatomics’]

[Text appears: ‘Thirdrow Films’}

[State Government of Victoria logo and text appears: ‘Department of State Development Business and Innovation’]

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