In Germany alone, five million people suffer from degenerative joint disease. The older we get, the more strain we put on our hips, knees and shoulders. Risky sports increase the risk of joint diseases, while an increase in body weight should not be underestimated either.
With its ten employees, Amedrix GmbH from Esslingen in the Stuttgart Region has developed a whole new procedure for replacing missing collagen in the cartilage: an injection transports a liquid gel to the site affected, where the gel then hardens. Managing Director Dr. Thomas Graeve explains the principle as follows: "This fills in the missing cartilage mass without any gaps."
The complicated and expensive operations carried out to date are then no longer necessary. "Only in the case of more serious defects, when the cavity is too large, is it still necessary to operate", explains the cell biologist. In this case, a collagen gel with a consistency similar to that of a gummy bear is cut to size and inserted. "Clinical studies have shown that cartilage cells and stem cells migrate in from the surrounding tissue. They promote self-healing, so that new, high-quality joint cartilage forms within a short period of time."
The collagen gel used is considerably more effective than other customary methods applied, which are complicated, expensive and not long lasting. For example, an attempt was made to stimulate the bone marrow to promote the formation of new fibrous cartilage. However, the full quality was never achieved. Cartilage transplants, too, were always limited to small amounts. In turn, artificial joint replacement has a limited lifetime and is mainly used in older patients.
From cats to horses, pets can also benefit from the method developed at the Esslingen-based Life Science Center, where Amedrix is located alongside many other biotech companies. Amedrix has already filed two patents for the liquid application of collagen.
In order to implement the procedure for the manufacture of the implant in accordance with the applicable medical guidelines, Amedrix sought the assistance of the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB), which has extensive experience in this area and has already developed similar products in accordance with the applicable guidelines and brought these to market together with the companies concerned. Venture capital has been contributed by the investors, High-Tech Gründerfonds (German government's high-tech fund for start-ups) and Life Science Fonds Esslingen. Amedrix also receives support from Bio Regio Stern Management GmbH.