A domestic cat has made history in the field of medicine after becoming the first in the world to receive a unique hybrid implant that replaced damaged bone fragments in her body.
What’s so exciting about this new development is that the cat survived and is doing great! That means that the implant worked. This also means that the treatment could work for other patients, not just cats.
A team of researchers for Biomimetix, a small innovative enterprise based at the National University of Science and Technology MISIS, collaborated with another team of scientists from the N.N. Blokhin National Medical Research Centre of Oncology in Moscow, Russia, to develop this unique hybrid implant.
The implant is designed to mimic real bone structure so that it will be easier for the body to accept the foreign object and make it work like a real bone.
The surgery was done at the veterinary clinic “Biocontrol” where the test subject is a cat named Lapunya, a Russian word that means “Sweetie” in English.
Biocompatible bone implants based on ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) were created to match the bone structure on Lapunya’s leg, a 6-cm bone fragment that was damaged by osteosarcoma.
With a frame of a titanium alloy created via a 3D printer and a structure made of porous ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, the implant imitates real bone. The implant was put in place in March 2019 and subsequent therapy followed.
“Our implant almost completely corresponds to the usual bone. First of all, this means that it will not take on excessive load, so the bone at the place of its attachment will not become brittle, as it often happens with metal implants,” explained Fyodor Senatov, CEO of Biomimetix and researcher at NUST MISIS Center of Composite Materials.
“In addition, the polymer surface of the implant is convenient to dope it with the patient’s own cells, which significantly accelerates survival. This is especially important given the fact that we cannot explain to pets that at the time of recovery, the limb should be protected.”
Based on their observations, the implant worked well. Just weeks later, the cat could walk again! This is an important scientific breakthrough, especially considering that previously, the only alternative to cases like Lapunya’s is amputation!
The prospect of using this on humans is near – and that’s all thanks to a cat named Lapunya.