Impressio and MedShape awarded grant from National Science Foundation to develop joint replacement device

Wednesday July 29, 2020 0 comments Tags: Aurora, Impressio, MedShape, Amir Torbati, Christopher Yakacki

AURORA -- Impressio Inc. and Atlanta-based MedShape Inc. have been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $250,000 to conduct research and development work on a new surgical treatment for hallux rigidus.Impressio-logo 

The goal of the research grant is to create the first arthroplasty device that uses a novel energy-absorbing material, liquid-crystal elastomer (LCE), to surgically treat hallux rigidus - a degenerative osteoarthritis of the MTP joint.

Approximately 2.5% of people over 50 years old, which is roughly 2-3 million people in the U.S., develop hallux rigidus.

By exploiting the LCE's inherent dissipative and anisotropic behavior, Impressio and MedShape will collaboratively develop an MTP joint replacement that better replicates the structural and biomechanical function of native cartilage while also reducing wear.

The results of this work could also have broader potential use to treat arthritis in other joints in the foot, hand, and knee, the companies said.

"NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering," said Andrea Belz, director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF.

"With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs."

"We believe our innovative material can improve human life from head to toe,” said Amir Torbati, CSO and co-founder of Impressio.

“Back in 2017, we started by using our energy absorbing material in helmet liners and proved that it works in reducing impact to the head. After receiving this NSF SBIR Phase I award, we will be focusing on MTP joint as our first entry point into the body.

“Once we develop our MTP joint and successfully prove that our technology works in joint replacements, we will start focusing on knee and spine implants.”

"Being vetted by NSF is a great confirmation of our technology, but our team has been even more impressed with the NSF resources such as the I-Corps program that gave us an opportunity to gain valuable understanding of the medical device space," said Christopher Yakacki, CEO and co-founder of Impressio.

Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.