Team of Porto develops device for treatment of bone infections

Researchers at the National Institute of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health have developed a device that by “releasing locally and in a controlled way” an antibiotic in the treatment of bone infections, improves the recovery of the patient.

“The present therapeutic strategy for combating bone infections is often inefficient and has some drawbacks, such as the ineffective treatment of severe bone infections or long hospital resistance to systemic antibiotic administration,” said Susana Sousa, a researcher at the National Institute of Engineering Biomedical (INEB), in Porto, and responsible for the project.

In statements, Susana Sousa explained that the medical device, called HECOLCAP and developed since 2013, in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Research and Innovation in Health (i3S) of the University of Porto, aimed at creating an “effective alternative” in the application of treatment of severe infections in patients with diabetic foot or who have developed infections following the application of a prosthesis or implant.

“The technology associates in a single product, with chemical composition and morphology that mimics the structure of the extracellular matrix of trabecular bone tissue,” he said.

The medical device thus enables the “transport and release locally in a controlled manner” the antibiotic, which once released, causes the cells “to be able to organize in order to generate new bone” and to regenerate the tissue.

“With these two valences it is intended to treat the infection and functional recovery of the tissue with only one intervention, unlike conventional treatment involving at least two surgeries,” said the researcher.

According to Susana Sousa, the technology developed still avoids “long hospital stays,” reduces treatment costs and improves “significantly” quality of life during patient recovery.

The ‘HECOLCAP’ device was awarded the second place of the i3S-Hovione Capital Innovation Award in Health, worth 17,500 euros, and winner of the BfK- Born from Knowledge award and the Patentree award.

The team that was involved in the creation of ‘HECOLCAP’ now intends to ‘market the technology’ through a licensing to a medical device company.

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