We've been developing new non-toxic and bio-non-reactive polymers to treat burns, mend bone and heal cartilage.

The challenge

Developing high quality materials for biomedical devices

Many millions of people worldwide rely on medical implants or devices to help improve their health and quality of life.

Despite many advances in the field, one of the major challenges for researchers has been developing materials that are stable in the human body, yet biodegradable.

Our response

A new breed of biodegradable polymers

In the 2000s our team started to investigate new non-toxic polymers designed with different degradation rates. The result was NovoSorb, a biodegradable material that can be used to aid the repair of bone fractures and damaged cartilage, and in skin grafts, particularly for treating wounds and burns.

Close up view of flask of NovoSorb biodegradable polymer

Gloved hands holding flask of NovoSorb biodegradable polymer solution.

CSIRO spin-off company, PolyNovo Biomaterials, has signed a partnering and licensing agreement with one of the world's largest medical device companies, Medtronic, to co-develop the next generation of stents using PolyNovo's biodegradable polymer, NovoSorb. (Stents are tiny mesh cylinders inserted after a narrowed artery is dilated with a balloon, to prevent a recurrence of the narrowing. Currently, these stents remain permanently inside the artery.)

It is expected that the (biodegradable) stents will be implanted to open a blocked artery, allowing the artery to repair itself, and then the stent harmlessly degrades. This would allow re-treatment of patients and remove long-term complications currently experienced with metal stents.

NovoSorb biodegradable polymer

In 2004, CSIRO formed the spin-off company PolyNovo Biomaterials in a joint venture with Xceed Biotechnology in order to commercialise the NovoSorb technology.

One of the key products developed from NovoSorb is Biodegradable Temporising Matrix (BTM). This is a wound dressing intended for treatment of full-thickness wounds and burns where the dermal structure has been lost to trauma, or damaged requiring surgical removal.

The results

Successful clinical trials

Since its formation, PolyNovo has successfully completed a clinical trial of BTM involving 10 patients.

In 2015 PolyNovo was awarded an $11 million contract and a further $25 million in funding from the US-based Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to complete a 150 patient trial with BTM.

PolyNovo secured regulatory approval from the US Food & Drug Administration in January 2016.

The company is now operating from a purpose-built manufacturing facility in Melbourne and has a market capitalisation of almost $1.4 billion.

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