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Biomaterials to Make a Comeback, Research Shows

Biomaterials are particularly important in the orthopedic device space, as bone growth and regeneration is key to repairing fractures and other bone injuries. Biomaterials can either be synthetic or naturally occurring (such as a graft or tissue from other organisms), or a combination of both. They are said to be osteoconductive, which means the material can fuse with existing bone and/or act as a scaffold upon which new cells can form. There is still a lot of new science surrounding biomaterial research and development, especially for cartilage tissue, which has proven difficult to replicate. During the annual Cleveland Clinic medical technology meeting last year, industry insiders discussed the lack of regulatory standards that surround the development of regenerative tissue.

Millennium Research Group (MRG), a medtech market research group based in Toronto, Canada, predicted last month that there will be a resurgence in the bone graft substitute (BGS) segment that will help the U.S. orthopedic biomaterial market to grow strongly to nearly $3.7 billion by 2017.

According to MRG, there will also be a resurgence in the growth factor market. Growth factors are naturally occurring substances that have the capability to stimulate cell growth. The market uptick will be driven in part by increasing uptake of Advanced Biologics’ OsteoAMP growth factor product, along with Wright Medical Technology’s Augment and Cerapedics’ i-Factor products. The latter two are expected to be approved and launched before 2017. Cost containment measures at hospitals may curb this resurgence, however, and many surgeons may opt to use lesser-expensive alternatives, including orthopedic stem cell products and second-generation synthetics.

“Although orthopedic stem cell products are facing some challenges in coverage due to a lack of robust clinical data, they will continue to see strong increases in use,” said MRG Analyst Mashkur Reza. “With the launch of new products, such as Biomet’s Cellentra, the demand for orthopedic stem cell products will continue to grow fairly strongly. Other competitors are more than likely to follow suit and will compete against the likes of Biomet and NuVasive, the latter of which leads the segment with its Osteocel product.”

The MRG reported that through 2017, the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. orthopedic biomaterials market will be hyaluronic acid (HA) viscosupplementation, as patients increasingly opt for more convenient, and also more expensive, single-injection HA treatments. The cell concentration systems segment will also contribute to growth in the market.

Viscosupplementation is a procedure that involves the injection of gel-like substances (hyaluronates) into a joint to supplement the viscous properties of synovial fluid. One of the major companies involved in the field is Bioventus, a recent spin-off of Smith & Nephew, which makes the Durolane hyaluronic acid injection for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

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