Tor 2 dec / År 39 / Nr 4 2021

Life Science 2021

The task of developing the healthcare systems, technology and treatments of the future requires a much sharper focus on facilitating collaboration across borders. Not only geographical – but across disciplines as well. Gothenburg has a strong and growing Life Science cluster which deserves to be highlighted from a national point of view.

Orthopedic care can be dramatically improved using electronic stimulation

Intelligent Implants, a Gothenburg-based medical technology company, has proven that wireless electronic impulses stimulate healing in bone and other tissues. The technology has been developed by brothers John and Erik Zellmer. It has been tried, tested and verified in the USA and Europe, and may soon improve quality of life of millions.

The team at Intelligent Implants enjoys the creative atmosphere at AstraZeneca’s BioVentureHub. From left: Ping Ping Gong, Erik Zellmer, Mats Dotevall, Martin Larsson, John Zellmer, Andreas Bringman, Christian Berkius and Caiwei Xu.

Like so many other good innovations, the Zellmer brothers’ innovation originated from a need of a loved one.

“Initially, we want to improve the outcome of spinal disc surgeries and other orthopedic surgeries using neuro modulation. Eventually, the technology that we have developed and patented may be used in all kinds of surgeries and medical processes where bone healing can be promoted using electronic stimulation”, clarifies Erik Zellmer, CTO of Intelligent Implants.

Intelligent Implants was founded in USA and Sweden by John and Erik Zellmer, in close collaboration with Martin Larsson and Dr Rory Murphy.

How does it work?

Intelligent Implants incorporates the latest technology from neuro stimulation with application to orthopedic implants. A small device is implanted close to the bone or even in place of bone, and electronic impulses are used to promote the growth of new bone.

The device is wireless and connected to an external monitoring system, enabling healthcare professionals to closely monitor the bone. As the system is up and running in real-time, it is possible to track changes and plan ongoing care without having to make an x-ray. This saves time and other resources and is above all much safer and easier for the patient.

“There are many benefits in using our devices and solutions. They are smart, wireless, integrated and minimally invasive”, states Martin Larsson.

A one-of-a-kind solution

There is no other similar bone stimulating solutions for orthopedic applications available today anywhere else in the world.

“We are developing a one-of-a-kind solution, and what we hope to achieve is a shift in focus from mere repairing to a more preventive orthopedic care. As Gothenburg is the home of medical device development in Sweden, and our technology is unique globally, we have a good starting point”, says Martin Larsson.

This year, FDA granted Breakthrough Device designation for SmartFuse, the Intelligent Implants technology platform for orthopedics. 

“Our recent Breakthrough Device designation underscores the urgent need for more effective treatments for patients suffering with degenerative disc disease”, according to John Zellmer, CEO of Intelligent Implants. “We look forward to working closely with the FDA through future clinical trials and review processes for SmartFuse. We expect to benefit from additional FDA input during premarket development as well during the submission process and through an expedited review once the submission is filed. Our goal is to bring this important new technology to a patient population with a significant unmet medical need”.