Implant could better repair pervasive knee injury

Torn meniscus tissue repair in the knee is the U.S.'s most common orthopedic procedure, but one-fifth of operations fail, Bloomberg reports. That all could change thanks to Tissue Regenix's new implant, which uses reappropriated tissues from pigs to fix meniscus tears.

The company's implant works by taking pig cartilage and removing all of the cellular material that would cause humans to reject the implant, and then, once implanted, repopulating the tissue with stem cells from the patient. In trials, the method has proven faster and more effective than traditional tissue patches, according to Bloomberg. And if Tissue Regenix can get its product on the market, it could spell trouble for the prosthetic knee market, estimated at about $7 billion.

As a result, prostheticsmakers Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Smith & Nephew ($SNN) have considered buying up Tissue Regenix to get ahead of the market, one analyst tells Bloomberg, and the company's decellularization technology has attracted the attention of other implantmakers. The method can be effective in heart valves, and Tissue Regenix is likely to field licensing offers from companies like Edwards Lifesciences ($EW) and St. Jude Medical ($STJ), according to the news service.

That's all dependent on regulatory approval, of course. In 2010, Tissue Regenix got European clearance for a vascular patch using the same technology and designed to replace heart tissue damaged in surgery, but the company is still awaiting FDA clearance on that. The company plans to release pre-clinical data on its meniscus implant later this year and launch full-scale human trials in 2013, filing for approval as soon as 2014, CEO Antony Odell told Bloomberg.

- read Bloomberg's report