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Founded in 2020, CircumFix Solutions has developed a PEEK-based sternal closure device to improve patient recovery after open chest surgery.

Norbert Sparrow

February 17, 2022

2 Min Read
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Image courtesy of Alamy/Dzmitry Dzemidovich

Evonik Venture Capital (EVC), a branch of specialty chemicals company Evonik based in Essen, Germany, announced that it has invested in Tennessee-based startup CircumFix Solutions. The company, founded in 2020 by Louis Houff and Ken Richardson, has developed a sternal closure device to improve patient recovery after open chest surgery. The patented orthopedic device, made of an implant-grade polyetheretherketone (PEEK) from Evonik, closes and holds the sternum securely together after surgery.

The amount of the investment was not disclosed. EVC states that its maximum investment volume per portfolio company is €15 million ($17 million).

“We are seeing a revolution in implantable medical devices with the shift from metal to high-performance polymers, and this investment supports that shift,” said EVC Head Bernhard Mohr. “Patients and doctors can benefit enormously from a technology that is safe, reliable, and enhances recovery.”

PEEK-based device prevents bone and tissue damage

CircumFix’s medical device is composed of a slender chest plate positioned on the sternum that is held in place by fasteners that encircle the sternum and are affixed to the plate. The design allows for even load sharing between the bone and device while restricting motion, which increases stability and reduces pain. Surgeons can close the sternum faster and more easily than with traditional devices. If revision surgery is needed, the device can be quickly reopened and closed again. In comparison to some metal devices currently on the market, the CircumFix product prevents bone and tissue damage, according to the news release.

CircumFix co-founder Houff first conceived of the novel bone fixation and healing concept in 2012 and received his first patent in 2017.

Because the medical device is made from PEEK, a biocompatible, bioinert, and hydrophobic material, the chance of infection is significantly reduced, according to Evonik. The device also is transparent to x-rays and, therefore, doesn’t interfere with post-surgical diagnostics. 

“The investment will deepen our relationships across the medical technology industry and with engineering companies,” said Marc Knebel, Medical Systems Head at Evonik. “At the same time, we can reach US clinical experts in orthopedics, many of whom are less aware of PEEK as an alternative to titanium and stainless steel.”

5% CAGR projected for US sternal closure device market 

The US sternal closure device market was estimated at $1.4 billion for 2021, with more than 700,000 procedures performed per year. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%, reaching $1.9 billion by 2026.

The investment will allow Evonik to build on expertise already acquired in implant-grade high-performance polymers, said the company. PEEK, which is marketed by Evonik under the VestaKeep name, is currently used in spine, skull, jaw, and face surgery as well as orthopedics and has high potential in other medical applications, said Evonik.

Since it was established in 2012, Evonik Venture Capital has made approximately 45 investments. With a fund size of €250 million ($284 million), its investment scope ranges from early- to growth-stage businesses.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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