March Business in Calgary - Collaboration Helping to Bring Technology to Life
Monday, March 2, 2015
Bring Technology to Life
A guide system for total hip replacement surgery | BY ANDREA MENDIZABAL
testament to its innovative thinking and entrepreneurial
spirit, Calgary is home to the largest number of
technology startups per capita in Canada, and home to
the University of Calgary, one of the top 10 research universities
in the country.
As the technology transfer and business incubator for the
University of Calgary, Innovate Calgary works closely with
researchers to help bridge the gap between discovery and
“Innovate Calgary is a hub of innovation, helping to make
connections and catering to researchers and entrepreneurs
to help take new ideas to market in a faster, more effective
manner,” says Raja Singh, senior intellectual property
manager, Innovate Calgary. “We’re taking a tailored
approach to technology commercialization.”
Singh is currently working closely with a life sciences
technology that is taking a unique path to commercialization,
where the academic has come together to collaborate with
a Canadian company to develop a solution for a specific
“The idea for the OPTIHIP started when a surgeon here
in Calgary and I were speaking about what would make his
surgical life easier,” says Dr. Carolyn Anglin, lead researcher
of the OPTIHIP, and a professor in biomedical engineering
at the University of Calgary. “He wanted a way to take his
preoperative X-ray plan and transfer it into the patient,
improving the accuracy and placement of the acetabular cup
in hip replacement surgery.”
Having served the orthopedic field in various capacities,
and a specialist in bone and joint health, Anglin took on the
Total hip replacement is a common and effective surgery
for hips damaged by injury or disease. This surgery
frequently involves securing an acetabular cup in the pelvis.
The challenge is that the ideal placement for the cup is
unique to each patient because of individual variations in
Currently, the intended orientation is generally
determined by the surgeon using preoperative imaging
including a CT scan or X-rays. Any inaccuracies in the
placement can lead to pain, damage to the implant and
risk of dislocation, oftentimes requiring the patient to have
OPTIHIP is a guide system that is configured preoperatively
to the patient’s specific optimal orientation.
“We’re still evolving the design but the end result is a very
simple, intuitive instrument,” says Anglin.
It takes an ecosystem to drive the commercialization
success of an innovation and teaming up with Calgary-based
Tangent Design Engineering for design and prototyping was
a natural choice.
“Having that industrial design input early on had a good
influence on the design in terms of how a surgeon will use
it,” says Anglin. “I really felt that the more heads we had
at the table, the better the design that we would generate,
ultimately benefiting the patient.”
Collaborating with Anglin’s research team, Tangent
worked closely with an industrial designer and key surgeons.
The team was even brought into surgeries to observe exactly
where the challenges were being encountered.
“Having the engineers involved at that level was really
a great collaborative experience and I don’t know if that’s
unique but it’s certainly the way you want things to go,” says
John Person, VP engineering, Tangent Design Engineering.
“Because everyone was committed to making it a team
effort, it went very smoothly and I think we have come up
with a really great solution because of it.”
“This technology has taken a truly collaborative approach
to commercialization, where academic has come together
with local organizations to leverage the excellent resources
we have in Calgary,” says Singh. “The team is committed
to moving the product forward for regulatory approval and
successful entry into the market.”
A prototype of the OPTIHIP has been built and tested by
an orthopedic surgeon. Initial testing simulation techniques
have demonstrated accurate placement of the acetabular cup
within three degrees, compared to a range of seven to 10
degrees with current methods.
“We have shown that this is in fact an accurate instrument
under the controlled conditions but we need to prove that
it’s also an accurate instrument on a patient, so that’s the
next step,” says Anglin.
The team is now working to secure a commercial partner
in order to move forward with human trials, pending
“I would love to see this used in a patient and I think we
are very much in line to have it happen in 2015,” says Anglin.
To learn more about the OPTIHIP, or to learn more about
Innovate Calgary and how it supports new and emerging
technology, visit www.innovatecalgary.com.
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