NAPLES, Fla. - It’s not your typical Band-Aid.
Made of fabric and infused with silver and zinc, the innovative bandage puts off an electrical charge to stop infection and promote healing after surgery. It’s one of North Naples-based Arthrex Inc.’s newest products.
Called JumpStart, the product developed by Vomaris in Arizona will soon be widely marketed by Arthrex. “They developed the technology. We’re basically working on it with them to market it, and to further develop it for orthopedic applications,” said David Shepard, Arthrex’s director of orthobiologics. “It’s quite unique.”
The local orthopedic medical device manufacturer will launch the bandage in February, marketing it to surgeons around the world. The product, which has only been marketed in a limited way, will continue to be made in Arizona.
Shepard showed off the bandage at an event hosted by the Southwest Chapter of BioFlorida, an industry trade group, on Monday night. He passed it around during a presentation highlighting the company’s growth over the past year.
The JumpStart bandage creates a current between its holes, or dots, through a technology known as Procellera, without wires or batteries, he explained as the product made its way around the meeting room. The charge, which can last for five to seven days, is activated when the bandage touches something wet, anything from water to blood.
“Potentially it could be used on every surgical procedure,” Shepard said.
The bandage was one of several new devices he talked about. Shepard told the group that 2014 was a busier year than usual for Arthrex, with the launch of nearly 1,000 new products. Of the 997 new products added in 2014, about 350 of them were developed for arthoplasty, or surgical procedures to restore joints.
Founded in 1981 and incorporated in 1984, Arthrex is a leading provider of medical instruments for arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery, now commonplace, involves making small incisions into joints, such as knees and shoulders, to treat diseases and injury, from arthritis to cartilage tears.
The company now has 8,543 products, with plans to continue adding new ones, with the goal of “helping surgeons treat their patients better,” Shepard said.
He touched on the company’s growing operations in Ave Maria, where it recently broke ground on a 55,000 square foot sterilization building. He discussed the company’s new technology center in California built for the production of the visualization equipment surgeons use to treat their patients, and its new and expansive eastern hemisphere headquarters in Munich, Germany, which includes 50 wet lab stations, with room to train up to 300 surgeons at a time on its devices.
Looking ahead, Arthrex is developing a more advanced visualization system for surgeons, which it expects to launch this year, Shepard said.
The company continues to improve on the internal brace it recently developed for ligament repair, designed to speed up the healing process, so patients can quickly get back to doing their usual activities, he said.
While still small, the company’s biologics division grew 72 percent last year, based on revenues, he said. Biologics is cutting-edge in orthopedics, and involves implanting cells, scaffolds (structures that promote cell growth), and other growth factors, to stimulate repairs naturally, he explained.
“It’s hard to beat Mother Nature and while instruments are great, you are fighting against the patient’s own biology,” Shepard said. “If the patient has a biology that is not really great, then you need to come up with something to augment that.”
In October, Arthrex signed an exclusive agreement to distribute an innovative product that surgeons can use to repair cartilage. Shepard describes the product this way: sheets of cartilage, with live cells, that can be used to cover bones and joints, adding cushioning and filling in defects, caused by wear and tear, or disease.
The BioFlorida event, held at Arthrex’s headquarters off Creekside Boulevard, also offered a rare tour of Arthrex’s sprawling campus. About 30 professionals attended, including a few from Florida’s east coast who jumped at the chance to get a peek at Arthrex’s operations.
The tour included a look at a new studio that Arthrex uses to shoot high-end photographs of its products and to create top-notch educational and marketing videos, a peek at an expanded research and development center, and a glimpse at what Shepard described as a playground for surgeons, a room where doctors can touch and feel all kinds of devices.
Ebony Daniels Sanon, a quality engineer for BioTeknica Engineering & Regulatory Services in Coral Gables, drove over Alligator Alley just for the event, saying the opportunity to visit Arthrex was on her bucket list. After holding a few of the company’s devices in her hands, she said she wished she could try them out herself, then chuckled, saying she’d probably end up sued.
“I know they’ve been here,” she said of Arthrex. “When I saw this event I had to come and it was worth the drive.”