Patients who suffer from chronic knee pains after having their meniscus removed, can participate in the AIR2 study, starting mid-November. With the latest version of its Trammpolin meniscus prosthesis, ATRO Medical hopes to reduce pain and improve mobility of the knee for these patients. A new and exciting phase for the Nijmegen-based company, say CEO Jan Hunik and market development manager Maarten van der Zanden.
For the trial, ATRO Medical has teamed up with the orthopedic departments of the Sint Maartenskliniek, the MUMC+ and Haaglanden Medisch Centrum. The company has high hopes for this phase in their research and is now looking for 10 suitable patients for the study of the new procedure. This procedure for placing the meniscus prosthesis has been practiced extensively. Through minimally invasive surgery, a new meniscus is placed where the patient’s own meniscus used to be.
As soon as patients apply, a screening will follow, for example with regard to medical history, weight and age. The participating organizations are looking for adults between 18 and 70 years, who have previously had all or part of their inner meniscus removed. After placing the prosthesis, the patients will be followed for two years, with periodic check-ups and examinations.
Second round of studies on knee replacement
Two years ago, ATRO Medical also started a trail in cooperation with the three clinics. It brought some insights, but not the desired results. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. van Tienen explains: “We saw too little improvement in function in the first patients: their knees remained stiff after implantation. Unfortunately, we had to remove the prostheses in a number of patients. But the good news was that no additional damage was done to the knee’s interior: the patients therefore could continue in the regular path of care. But they still suffered from the initial symptoms. So, the solution we’ve been looking for, hadn’t been found yet.” ATRO has taken the learnings from that research and used it to improve their solution over the last few years.
Transparency and a unique approach
Sharing all aspects of their process – the successes and obstacles – is a unique approach in the field. “We include our stakeholders in our questions and doubts during the process. We ask key opinion leaders for feedback. We publish scientific articles and gain valuable insights from the field”, says Maarten.
Maarten: “Not just our approach, but also our solution is unique: we are investigating a durable plastic that truly mimics the meniscus. We follow the anatomy of a meniscus and use the attachment points of a natural meniscus. By mixing two types of plastics, we aim to create a solution that both deflects tension and still has shock absorbing qualities.”
Small studies for a big difference
Dr. Tony van Tienen and Dr. Jan Hunik set up their startup ATRO Medical in 2016, to get the Trammpolin meniscus prosthesis to patients. CEO Jan Hunik speaks of a great opportunity and challenges: “As a startup, we have the chance to make a difference for a large number of patients. In Europe, over 400,000 people suffering from chronic knee pain after meniscus removal, are waiting for a surgical solution. But first, we need to prove the effect of the prosthesis in small studies.”
As a spin-off from DSM and Radboud University Medical Centre, ATRO Medical has found the perfect place to grow at Novio Tech Campus in Nijmegen. “We work closely with the orthopedic research lab in Nijmegen, so the location just makes sense. The Novio Tech community also helps us to expand our network and provides business support”, says Maarten.
Want to know more? Patients interested in participating in the AIR2 research can find more information on the ATRO Medical website of via the participating clinics, Sint Maartenskliniek, MUMC+ and Haaglanden MC.