A super-strong steel substitute invented in Israel that was sent into space by NASA has now returned to the Middle East to be used in hip replacements.
The material, which goes by the scientific name MP-1, was developed by Aliza Buchman, development manager of Nahariya-based startup MMA Tech in collaboration with Prof. Robert Bryant of the University of Virginia.
The advanced polymeric material is self-shielding, has high resistance to heat, is lightweight but very strong, and shows little wear and tear – all of which are important qualities for deployment in space.
But MP-1 works equally well in joint surgery. The first human operation using MP1 was performed 12 years ago in New Zealand. Since then, 74 surgeries have been done in that country.
Now the material has come full circle, back to Israel, where it was used three months ago for a woman in her 60s who needed a hip implant. A second surgery was performed last week on Roxana Smarsky, 48, of Yokne’am Illit.
Both surgeries were conducted at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, the first by Dr. Daniel Levin and the second under the direction of Dr. Doron Norman.
“One of the problems with existing implants is wear and tear,” explained Levin. “Over time patients will have to undergo repeat surgery and replace the implant due to loosening and cracking. The expectation of the new material is long-term durability and the possibility for patients to live with a better quality of life.”
There’s more in store for MP-1: knee replacements and even dental implants are now being planned.
Buchman is pleased with how her initial space-age product has evolved to address terrestrial concerns.
“Our first recipient has been with the joint for 12 years without pain, and we are certainly encouraged by the results of the additional surgeries,” Buchman said. Her company has received a research grant of €1.5 million.