Biodegradable Metal? But (Hopefully) Not Like My First Car

In short

San Diego biodegradable metal specialist company Bio DG has announced today that its patent for a novel metal system for use as biodegradable material in developing implantable medical devices was granted by the U.S. Patent Office on August 21, 2012.

The company’s sophisticated materials, unlike those used on the door sill of my old campervan, possess high initial strength then erode in a predictable and biocompatible manner, making them good candidates for use in certain implantable medical devices.


Bio DG’s first-of-its-kind biodegradable alloys are primarily metallic and are engineered to address the limitations of current biodegradable materials which are mainly polymeric, as well as non-biodegradable materials such as stainless steel and titanium, that are used in implantable medical devices.

Bio DG’s biodegradable metal materials are based on the discovery of alloy structures that cause degradation to take place from the surface without pre-mature loss of properties of the as-yet-un-degraded material.

The company says its alloys may be formed into any shape, such as screws, plates, sutures, and stents, using common forming techniques, making them ideal for use in a wide range of medical devices across multiple market segments. The alloys are austenitic so will not react in a magnetic field, and formulated from well-tolerated elements so as not to generate a toxic reaction. Bio DG materials have the strength of a steel alloy and are much stronger than a polymer implant.

Bio DG alloys are engineered to dissolve from the exterior surfaces without compromising the internal structure, thus retaining strength of the remaining undissolved portion of the implant throughout the degradation period. The alloys are non-toxic to the host body and are reportedly ideal for medical devices that must exhibit high strength and are implanted, and in which removal is not ideal and biodegradation preferred.

The company is coy about the extent of, and exactly what the implant applications may be, but the vascular stent is an obvious initial target, as may be internal staples. Indeed agreements are currently in place for this patented technology to be used in the development of products within some key segments and the company is already partnering with several medical device manufacturers in the quest to develop highly innovative and game-changing products with the potential to transform patient outcomes.

Clinician comments

“The concept of a non-magnetic biodegradable metal which can be crafted to perform its purpose of coaptation of tissue until fully healed, then eliminated from the body, is a very exciting concept,” stated Herbert H. Dardik, MD, Chief Vascular Surgery, Englewood Hospital, Englewood, NJ. “I can see that this new technology will greatly expand clinical applications where we now limit use of metal sutures and staples, as well as where implants made from polymer technologies are not ideal.”

Company comments

“These alloys have tremendous potential,” Bio DG chief operating officer Herbert R. Radisch, Jr. stated. “Within the orthopedic space they can replace stainless steel and titanium alloy devices meant for temporary or semi-permanent implants. Within the cardiovascular space they can be used to develop strong biodegradable stents that have the ability to degrade over a specific time period. And within the suturing/stapling space, they can be used to develop an implantable surgical staple that does not require a second surgical intervention for removal. Devices made from this patented technology clearly have the potential to improve long term patient outcomes across a range of therapeutic areas.”

Source: Bio DG, PR  Newswire