Theradaptive 'bone paint' could help speed up the healing process for injuries such as shattered bones. Credit: US Army.

During the war in Afghanistan, US forces suffered more than 20,000 wounded in hostile actions. Many of these injuries include damaged or shattered bone from gunfire, grenades or shrapnel from landmines and IEDs.

Now, a Boston-based company is working with an innovative bone regenerative protein to help service members recover from these traumatic injuries, according to a report from Connie Lee at National Defense.

Luis Alvarez, CEO and founder of Theradaptive, said AMP2 can be applied like paint to an orthopedic implant manufactured to replace or support a damaged bone, the report said.

This could help speed up the healing process for injuries such as shattered bones. Coating the implant with the protein helps induce repair, the report said.

“We have focused on a particular protein that regenerates bone in particular, [and modified] that protein so that it sticks in certain implants and medical devices,” he said.

The technology has already been tested on animals. At a Cleveland clinic, scientists were able to correct a bone defect of about five centimeters long, Alvarez noted.

“That was probably the most striking result we’ve had to date,” he said. Five centimeters is “quite large and reminiscent of what you might see in combat trauma.”

The company is slated to begin testing on humans in about 18 months and is waiting to receive Federal Drug Administration approval, the report said.

Theradaptive is receiving Defense Department funding through programs such as the joint warfighter medical research program, which helps accelerate medical research-and-development efforts, the report said.

The company also received a US$3 million grant through a peer-reviewed medical research program, the report said.

The research will be especially helpful for spinal fusions, which focus on welding bone between vertebrae and reducing back pain, he noted. This would also be a sustainable product for the commercial market, the report said.

“In the military during peacetime, this degeneration in the back is one of the main reasons for medical separation,” he said.

Additionally, Theradaptive is leveraging the work to modify proteins that could help with regenerating skin and blood vessels, he noted.

The cartilage regeneration program is of high interest to the Defense Department because damaged joints can lead to osteoporosis later in life, which is a problem often dealt with by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the report said.

The effort is being supported through the Small Business Innovation Research program.