Medical Devices

Synthetic cartilage implant designed to restore natural joint mechanics in osteoarthritis patients

xrayWith an ongoing clinical trial and a new investment, startup Cartiva Inc. is well on its way to bringing a less invasive, motion-preserving alternative to joint fusion to patients in the U.S.

The Alpharetta, Georgia, company just landed a $4.3 million investment led by New Enterprise Associates. It will use the funds to continue its clinical study of a synthetic cartilage implant for patients with osteoarthritis, a chronic degenerative join disease characterized by the breakdown of the cartilage in the joint.

Cartiva SCI is made with a polyvinyl alcohol cryogel that mimics natural cartilage and provides flexible cushioning for natural joint movement. The implant is inserted through a small incision and placed in a pre-drilled hole in the bone, to resurface the damaged area of cartilage.

Last year the company began a clinical study with 236 patients to see how the implant worked in the metatarsophalangeal joint of the big toe. The study will measure pain, function and safety in comparison to a joint fusion, the current standard of care. The results are intended to support a Premarket Approval Application to the FDA, the company says.


A variety of options are available for the millions of Americans dealing with osteoarthritis, including cell therapies, tissue grafts and joint fusion. Cartiva still sees an opportunity for a product that’s less invasive than joint fusion, preserves natural joint function and doesn’t require significant removal of healthy tissue.

The device has been approved in Canada, Europe and Brazil for nearly a decade and has been used primarily in treating osteoarthritis of the knee, the first MTP joint and the carpometacarpal joint in the wrist.

Carticept Medical, a company focused on making injections safer and more efficient, spun off Cartiva in December 2011. Other investors in the young company include Domain Associates and SonoSite Inc.

[Image credit: BigStock Photos]

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