A screw used for orthopaedic purposes was first introduced in the year 1912 by William O Sherman. He had made this invention based on his research and later recommendations for using bone screws as it led to the healing of the bones.
The function of a bone screw is simply to provide compression in those bones which require mending due to a fracture or an injury. The screw works by converting the force from the movement of the bone to compression. Later the compression is distributed along with the injured bones. The compression generated allows the bone to heal faster.
The cost of these bone screws is very high in India and are mostly imported from outside. In a bid to lower the cost, a team of researchers from IIT-Bombay have developed the first of its kind Indian made, biodegradable screw. This screw will help in fixing the soft tissue injuries and bones.
Bone screws which are made of metal lead to interference in bone growth especially in children. However, over a period of time, the biodegradable screws degrade and do not interfere with the bone growth as well. There is a reduced risk of infection also in these screws. Biodegradable screws are being used in India. However, the ones being used are mainly exported and are very expensive. Thus to bring down the cost of these screws, our very own homemade version has been developed.
The researchers at IIT Bombay have used local biomaterial like silk and magnesium oxide. These materials have unique biodegradable and mechanic properties. The masterminds behind the research are Kunal Khanna, Ajay Suryavanshi, Sindhu KR, Rohit Srivastava and Jayesh Bellare. This research was funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the team is on a lookout to transfer the technology to the industry.
Mr Rohit Srivastava, from IIT Bombay’s bioengineering and bioscience department, stated that the material used in the screws which are imported from outside is very basic yet very expensive. These screws cost somewhere around Rs 15,000 to 16, 000 and if 2-3 screws are needed the cost may go up. Thus even though they come with many advantages over the metal screws, doctors do not prefer to use them owing to the cost.
The making of these biodegradable screws in India was not easy. The initial challenge of selecting the right material was a big concern. A material with biocompatibility and strength to hold the bone tissues is the greatest requirement. To start with a polymer – polycaprolactone was used, but this was way too soft and did not solve the purpose. Later this polymer was filled with silk and magnesium oxide. This was better as the silk provided elasticity and magnesium oxide gave strength.
The hardworking team has already applied for a patent. They are on cloud nine to have developed a low cost reasonable orthopaedic device. This invention has allowed the best standards of medical care easily afforded by the masses. Also, the technology has given hope to manufacture other materials like bone plates, sutures and anchors at affordable prices.
This is indeed a path-breaking solution for a problem where medical aid could not be afforded by many due to the high cost. With the Indian make biodegradable screws treatment is definitely affordable. Having said that, if you have an idea join us as an Innovation Catalyst at Bots N Brains and visit our problem database to solve as many problems as you can.