NSW Health has awarded a prestigious scholarship to a University of Sydney researcher to develop biodegradable medical implants that could have life-saving applications in heart surgery.
Dr Iman Manavitehrani, an Associate Lecturer at Sydney Medical School, was awarded the prize by the Hon. Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, at the recent Cicada Innovations showcase - a world-leading advanced technology incubator.
The $849,000 grant awarded to Dr Manavitehrani is for a ‘platform technology’ that can be tuned for different biomedical applications. A composite structure using starch makes it tough enough for load-bearing orthopaedic applications such as bone screws, alternatively, the addition of soft materials such as polyurethane makes it a good candidate for flexible cardiovascular grafts.
During his PhD at the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Dr Manavitehrani developed a novel biodegradable medical implant that degrades inside the body, eliminating the need for a second surgery to remove the implant. This scholarship will allow him to further develop this biodegradable implant.
“I am delighted to take this opportunity and follow my dreams of entrepreneurship and commercialisation of this medical device,” said Dr Manavitehrani.
“I am excited to see that my research will be useful for patients and can also help the health system.”
“The novelty of this implant is that it is made from biomaterial that degrades into water and carbon dioxide, so there are no clinical complications associated and is safe for the human body.
“This platform technology can help to eliminate the need for the second surgery to remove the implant which is of great benefit to patients as well as the healthcare system.”
As a case study, Dr Manavitehrani fabricated biodegradable bone screws.
“The results from testing the screws were completely promising and showed superior properties to the biodegradable implants currently available,” he said.
A Post-Doctoral Scientist at the Heart Centre for Children at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Dr Iman Manavitehrani is currently working on tissue engineering and 3D printing of heart tissues.
Dr Manavitehrani recently participated in the Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program (MDCTP), an initiative of NSW Health, delivered by world leading advanced technology incubator Cicada Innovations.
The program is designed to accelerate commercialisation of medical technologies in NSW to bring lifesaving healthcare innovations to patients, hospitals and governments around the world. The MDCTP offers an invaluable opportunity to NSW based medical device technologists to build knowledge, skills and network needed to successfully commercialise medical device technologies.
The University of Sydney’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Duncan Ivison, said the University was delighted that our ground-breaking research was able to be translated into extraordinary outcomes for patients and their families through Cicada’s Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program.
‘World class research combined with a deep commitment to making a transformative, positive difference in our community is a vital part of our mission’," he said.
Working with Dr Maryam Parviz, from the Faculty of Engineering at University of New South Wales, Dr Manavitehrani will travel to San Francisco to participate in the NSW-QB3 Rosenman Scholar Program.
The researchers will spend two years at QB3, the University of California’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the life sciences. The scholarship will also cover product development costs, and will give the researchers access to mentoring and networking opportunities.