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Picture by Active Implants LLC

There are many posts in this blog about knee surgeries and replacements. One of the problem areas is the meniscus, a C-shaped piece of rubbery yet tough cartilage which acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. A meniscus tear can occur if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it. The knee is the largest joint in the body, and a meniscus tear can result in swelling, popping, limping, giving way, and a lot of pain. Like many issues, age can be an issue contributing to meniscus tears.

A privately held medtech company with headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, Active Implants LLC, develops orthopedic implant solutions designed to complement the natural biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system. The company’s goal is to allow patients to maintain or return to an active lifestyle. The current focus of Active Implants is to gain clinical validation for its NUsurface® Meniscus Implant, the first artificial meniscus. The target market is to replace a meniscus which is damaged or deteriorating.

The NUsurface meniscus implant is designed for patients with persistent knee pain following medial meniscus surgery. The artificial meniscus is made from medical-grade polymer and other unique materials. Because of the composite structure and design, the artificial meniscus does not require fixation to bone or soft tissues. The NUsurface Implant design mimics the function of the natural meniscus and redistributes loads which are transmitted across the knee joint.

The NUsurface device is already being marketed in Belgium, Germany, Israel, and Italy. The U.S. FDA has designated the NUsurface implant as a “breakthrough device”. According to the Active Implants website, two clinical trials of the NUsurface® Meniscus Implant were fully enrolled as of June 2018. One trial is called SUN (Safety Using NUsurface®) and the other VENUS (Verifying the Effectiveness of the NUsurface® System). Final approval by the FDA is expected this year. If approved, it will be the first artificial meniscus in the United States.

As I wrote in Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better, we are continuing the journey where more and more non-biological items are being inserted in humans. At the same time, biological-like items are going into robots. When we reach the singularity, it will be very difficult to tell the difference between human and non-human beings. 

Source: First ‘Artificial Meniscus’ Wins FDA Breakthrough Device Designation | MDDI Online