DSM has announced the start of an initiative to enter the market of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for use in Total Joint Arthroplasty and other medical devices. In the upcoming years DSM Biomedical will make significant investments in a research and development program focused on UHMWPE-grades with optimized material properties, specifically aimed at currently unmet clinical needs in this orthopedic segment. This strategic material development links on to DSM's activities in the Emerging Business Area of Biomedical Materials, which is an important element of DSM's strategy Vision 2010 - Building on Strengths.
In the medical industry UHMWPE is used as a bearing material for joint arthroplasty. The material is applied e.g. in artificial hips, knees, as well as in shoulders, elbows, wrists ankles and spinal disks. These devices require bearing materials that are strong, have a high resistance against abrasion and are of the highest purity levels, necessary for the application inside human bodies. As a result of the aging population and other demographic factors such as growing obesity problems, the market for orthopedic devices including artificial joints is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. DSM is already active in the orthopedic market with Dyneema Purity®, a fiber technology which was developed specially to obtain the required highest levels of quality and purity in medical applications, such as orthopedic implants.
Although DSM currently already is one of the major suppliers of Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, supplied under the trade name Stamylan® UH, DSM's UHMWPE is not applied in arthroplasty applications yet. "Our experience in the orthopedic market together with our position as a leading supplier of UHMWPE and our R&D competences in Materials Science, give DSM an ideal starting-point to develop dedicated materials for various demanding applications in this growing segment", says Steve Hartig, Vice President of DSM Biomedical. "This development is in line with our strategic intent to develop a portfolio of biomedical products with which we can address the medical needs of the future."