One of the most common problems associated with joint replacements, i.e., knee or hip replacement, and other implants, is post-operative infections. These often require further surgery and added medication, which poses considerable danger to the patient as well as increasing medical costs. However, a Buffalo, NY startup working with the University at Buffalo’s Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics (BIG) believes this could become much less common.
Researchers at Garwood Medical Devices are developing a medical device that delivers low-voltage to a joint replacement or any metal inserted into the body. The electric signal creates an antibacterial environment that stops infections before they become problematic. “Our goal is to eliminate the need for follow-up surgeries. We think we can wipe out infection-causing bacteria before trouble starts,” says Wayne Bacon, president and chief executive officer of Garwood Medical Devices, the Buffalo-based startup developing the biotechnology with assistance from the University at Buffalo’s Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics (BIG).
The solution began with the Biofilm Disruption Device (BDD discovered in the laboratory of Mark Ehrensberger, PhD, associate professor in UB’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. Ehrensberger developed the electrical stimulation method that Garwood licensed from UB. To bring the technology to market, Garwood partnered with BIG.
The BDD system includes two electrode skin patches, a machine that generates low voltage electricity and a needle about the size of a sewing needle that carries the electricity to the joint replacement. The needle is inserted into the body until it reaches the implant or metal hardware. The electric simulation then triggers a chemical reaction at the surface of implant which produces a surrounding microenvironment that promotes the killing of bacteria.
According to Wayne Bacon, testing in animal models showed the technology eradicated up to 98% of harmful bacteria associated with joint replacements. The advancement is important, he says, because, infections affect roughly 1 of every 100 knee replacements and there is no simple and effective way to treat them. Often infections prompt the need for replacement surgeries and some studies suggest the rate of infections following joint replacements will increase.