In a cutting-edge procedure conducted last year at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, Samarsky's knee was implanted in a polymer-made ballast developed by an Israeli scientist for NASA. This is the second surgery performed in Israel using this material. The two surgeries performed so far in Israel were carried out in the orthopedic system at Rambam, under the direction of Prof. Doron Norman.
The ballast was originally designed for jet bearings as a substitute for the steel used in the past. The material, whose scientific name is MP1, was developed by Aliza Buchman, the development manager of the Israeli start-up company M.M.A. Tech, located in Nahariya, Israel, in collaboration with Prof. Rob Bryant of Virginia (United States). The substance is considered an advanced polymeric material developed from scratch. Its main features—self-shielding, high heat resistance, zero wear, high strength, and light weight—made it ideal for the space industry, but it soon became apparent that for the medical world it was also very important.
The first to discover the potential in the material were orthopedic doctors who wanted to convert the material for joint surgery. About 12 years ago, the first human operation was performed using the new substance, as part of a clinical study in New Zealand. Since then, 74 surgeries have been performed there, with patients showing excellent results.
Three months ago, the material was first used in Israel, when Dr. Daniel Levine, Rambam's joint service manager and specialist in hip replacement surgery, performed a hip replacement in a woman in her 60s who suffered a hip fracture and a new implant. The two operations at Rambam were successful, and within a few days the patients recovered and began to walk and were released.
"The goal is to give our patients the best treatment," said Levine. "There is a development here that is still in the experimental stage, but on the face of it, it has properties that can give better results than existing materials. One of the problems with existing implants is wear and tear. Over time patients will have to undergo repeat surgery and replace the implant due to loosening and cracking. The expectation of the new material is long-term durability and the possibility for patients to live with a better quality of life. "
The MP1 has been adopted for knee joints as well as for dental implants and is currently working on developing nails and plates for the treatment of fracture and fusion in favor of trauma medicine.
"The scientific and medical community in Europe strongly believes in the development. Our first recipient has been with the joint for 12 years without pain, and we are certainly encouraged by the results of the additional surgeries," said Buchman, adding that the company received a research grant of 1.5 million euros for continued work. "As a leading medical center in its field, a referral to Rambam to take part in clinical research was natural and we are happy about this partnership. "