Smith & Nephew’s (SNN) orthopedics division and the U.S. Dept. of Defense inked a deal that will see the British medical device conglomerate’s Memphis-based ortho segment develop a cutting-edge putty to help treat battlefield fractures.
The company will work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Dept.’s secretive R&D arm, to develop a “fracture putty” to improve the treatment of traumatic battlefield injuries suffered from improvised explosive devices.
Smith & Nephew said DARPA began accepting proposals for the creation and development of the putty last year. The product would help treat soldiers and Marines injured by IEDs, which typically cause extensive soft tissue and bone damage and loss. The putty would support the injured limb during the early stages of recovery, boosting the natural healing process before dissolving and leaving healthy bone in its place.
Service members injured by IEDs now rely on fixation systems that use permanent metal plates, rods and screws to hold fractured bone in place. The hope is that the putty will help reduce the incidence of secondary fractures, infections, surgeries and amputations and cut down on rehabilitation times.
Smith & Nephew said it’s the only medical device company tapped for the project. If the putty works, the company said it might look to adapt it for other types of fracture in both civilian and military trauma care.
The company posted third-quarter sales of $915 million during the three months ended Sept. 26, down 1.6 percent compared with $930 million during the same period last year.
Despite that slide, third-quarter net profits rose to $128 million from $74 million during Q3 2008, on the strength of SNN’s cost-cutting program.