Titan Spine: A Paradigm Shift in Spinal Orthopedics
Peter Ullrich, CEO & President
“Back in 2002, I had an idea to fundamentally change interbody fusion devices for spinal orthopedics,” says Peter Ullrich, CEO and President of Titan Spine, reminiscing the events that spurred the surface technology revolution for these types of implants. As a practicing orthopedic surgeon, back then, Dr. Ullrich came up with a concept of creating a unique titanium interbody surface nanotechnology that promotes rapid patient healing and natural bone growth following spinal fusion surgery. Based on this idea, Dr. Ullrich eventually co-founded Titan Spine as a joint venture with his high school friend Kevin W. Gemas and began selling their own proprietary implants. Although the initial devices were deemed to be promising, their adoption was challenged by the status quo, which included the usage of plastic implants as a cheaper alternative. Titan Spine conducted several in vitro studies and discovered that the plastic implant surfaces created an inflammatory response that causes the human body to wall it off in fibrous tissue rather than bone.
Meanwhile, Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., Dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, an expert on biomaterials, pointed out that the surface could be improved to further enhance the bone formation response it created. In response to research conducted by Dr. Boyan, Titan Spine transitioned its approach and went ahead with changing the surface morphology of the device to include quantitatively and qualitatively enhanced nano-scaled features, as well as a greater amount of osteoclastic-like pits that mimic features found on bone during natural bone remodeling. The net result is a surface that communicates with the patient’s cells in a meaningful way to drive bone growth. This marked the inception of nanoLOCK—Titan Spine’s next-generation surface technology. The company gained clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market nanoLOCK in 2014 and garnered a prominent nanotechnology designation from the agency during the clearance process.
We are harnessing the power of nanotechnology to positively affect patient recovery following spinal fusion surgery
“Our nanoLOCK surface is still the only nano-cleared orthopedic technology, which speaks volumes to its uniqueness,” stated Dr. Ullrich.
Patients implanted with Titan Spine’s interbody fusion devices have been observed to experience less pain while the clinical data has shown a substantial reduction in the utilization of post-operative narcotics. “It has been a paradigm shift in our marketplace. We are harnessing the power of nanotechnology to positively affect patient recovery following spinal fusion surgery,” adds Dr. Ullrich.
Today, the company offers a full line of Endoskeleton interbody fusion devices that consists of Titan Spine’s proprietary nanoLOCK or the company’s original surface technologies. Titan Spine’s surface technologies have been proven to promote a significantly greater amount of bone growth factors necessary for fusion when compared to other common interbody fusion device materials such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and smooth titanium.
While the company continues to gain traction across the spinal interbody space, Titan Spine aims to eventually grow into a full-line spinal implant supplier. In addition, the company has begun looking into other orthopedic applications that can benefit from its nanoLOCK surface technology, with the goal to become the leading orthopedic surface technology provider. “Ultimately our customers are our patients. All of the success stories we are constantly hearing about is what fuels us to continue to innovate with nanotechnology to help patients get their lives back as soon as possible,” concludes Dr. Ullrich.
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