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DSM and Maastricht UMC+ successfully complete joint Bioterials project

Geleen, NL, 10 Jun 2009 18:16 CEST

DSM and the Maastricht University Medical Center+ (the Maastricht academic hospital and the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences of Maastricht University) today announce the successful completion of the three projects initiated as part of the Bioterials collaboration started in 2005. The projects have more than exceeded expectations, yielding successful preclinical study results while enabling three young PhD students to complete their studies. The aim of the collaboration was to strengthen the biomedical activities in Limburg, the focus being on development of new cardiovascular therapies based on biomedical materials.

Biomedical materials are foreign materials introduced into the body for repair and support of bodily functions. The first Bioterials project focused on development of an innovative degradable implant for controlled release of a medicine to control the cardiac rhythm of patients directly after surgery. Initial preclinical studies have meanwhile yielded positive results. It is expected that a few more years of research are needed before such a product can be marketed.

Project leader Prof. Dr. Leo Koole: “In the coming years the emphasis will mainly be on development of a patch that not only gradually releases the medicine to the heart but that also dissolves as it were upon therapy completion, thus avoiding long-term complications. Clinical application of this product will at least take another five years.

The second project involved development work on the controlled release of a medicine that locally stimulates the formation of new arteries and blood vessels. This is of particular importance to diabetes patients, who often suffer from poor circulation in their limbs. The new concept showed initial positive results in early clinical trials. Further development of the project will take place within a newly formed partnership under the Biomedical Materials program (BMM), a Netherlands-based public-private collaboration program focusing on research and development in the field of biomedical materials.

The third project was aimed at developing new materials that, in contact with blood, reduce complications like coagulation and infection. There is a great need for such materials, especially when blood is in prolonged contact with medical devices made of materials that are foreign to the body. Marc Hendriks, R&D Director DSM Biomedical: “This program has yielded positive results and the developments fit in so well with the scope of DSM’s biomedical activities that product development will be continued by DSM.

Besides the concrete project results the joint focus on the development of biomedical materials has also contributed to the setting up of the above-mentioned Biomedical Materials program. With a budget of €90 million, this research program will further reinforce the leading position of The Netherlands in biomedical materials in the coming years. DSM has meanwhile designated biomedical materials as one of the spearheads of its long-term innovation policy, aiming to generate €100 million in sales in this market by 2012.

The successful collaboration paves the way for new public-private projects strengthening the Limburg knowledge economy. “The Bioterials Project has clearly advanced us as scientists. Maastricht UMC+ is among the global leaders in its field, as is consistently demonstrated at major international conferences and in major trade journals”, says project leader professor Leo Koole. “We can surely be a bit proud of that. Our field is also responsible for a unique collaboration with nearby universities, in particular RWTH Aachen in Germany and Université de Liège in Belgium. Through contacts with our colleagues in the Euregion we are constantly enhancing scientific synergy while we are also increasingly successful in securing grants for such collaborations. Now we need to address the business side of our research, for many of our results are suitable for translation into commercial products. We are expecting much from new initiatives at Chemelot and from the Technological Top Region ambitions.