There are two concerns when it comes to implantable medical devices: biocompability and how quickly the device will be absorbed.
Magnesium Elektron, a manufacturer of bioabsorbable alloy solutions located in Manchester, England, uses magnesium for all of their products.
I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Robert Thornton, Quality & Programmers Development Manager Biomedical for Magnesium Elektron at MD&M East show, taking place June 13 to 15 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York.
“Many common materials (such as polylactic acid) may take two to four years to resorb,” explained Thornton. “Whereas magnesium can be reabsorbed in 12 months.”
The company’s product, SynerMag “allows medical devices to resorb at a steady rate. The material is also osteoconductive, which means that it helps bone growth,” he further explained.
Magnesium Elektron began with developing materials for the nuclear, aerospace, supercars, and defense market, Thornton explained. While in college, Thornton was working and conducting research at Magnesium Elektron. There, he was given a piece of magnesium and was asked to show them the microstructure and the grain size of it and loved working with it. About a year later, Formula One (F1) banned magnesium for making the cars too fast, creating a safety issue, Magnesium Elektron was looking for a way to diversify when Thornton proposed the idea, “is anyone for putting it in the body? I think it might do this…”
The team at Magnesium Elektron was on board with Thornton, pushing him to pursue a university project and which eventually led him work towards his doctorate. At the same time however, BIOTRONIK came to Magnesium Elektron with an idea to use aerospace alloys and using them in medical applications. This urged other large buyers to follow suit. Magnesium Eketron then began coming up with new alloys necessary because of the difference between degradation inside the body and inside an aircraft.
Fortunately, magnesium is not foreign to the body.
As the team began to develop more alloys, they realized they needed to find a cleaner process and safer space to create them, especially if they were for medical purposes. The team moved their production of medical devices into its own cleaner and safer space, and the company has grown since.
Today, they continue to expand their line of medical grade magnesium alloy. Specifically, their products are used in orthopedics and cardiovascular health? Needs a noun Their main product is the BIOTRONIK stent.
“The benefit of magnesium over traditional materials is [that it is a] metal, and therefore probably five to 10 times stronger than the polylactid acids,” explained Thorton. “The other benefits with magnesium [are] that it’s already in the body and it promotes bone growth. The bone will heal faster than if you use a steel or a titanium material.”