Partners gather to celebrate the launch of ARC CMIT in Melbourne on November 8, 2019.

As one of four research partners in the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies (ARC CMIT), Griffith is leading two key projects with the potential to deliver significantly better clinical outcomes for orthopaedic deformities, injuries and disabilities.

ARC CMIT brings together world-leading specialist biomedical engineers, scientists and clinicians to develop individually tailored orthopaedic and maxillofacial implants, heralding a new evolution of personalised medicine.

Professor David Lloyd

CMIT Program Leader, Griffith University Professor of Biomechanical Engineering David Lloyd said one project was focused on virtual planning and personalised cutting guides for juvenile femoral osteotomies.

“Griffith researchers, alongside clinical colleagues at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, have developed ground-breaking personalised virtual surgery plans for children with complex hip deformities,” said Professor Lloyd, who also heads the Gold Coast Orthopaedic Research and Education Alliance(GCORE) at Griffith.

“It is a novel approach to complex orthopaedic surgeries utilising digital twin modelling and 3D printing techniques which its hoped can also be translated to other conditions and scenarios.”

Dr Chris Carty

Dr Chris Carty, senior researcher at Griffith and clinical research manager in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Queensland Children’s Hospital, said the technology allowed the surgeon to plan precise surgeries that would not have been possible with current technologies.

“We are conscious of incorporating function into the design,” he said.

“We want to restore the anatomy of the bone but more than just a good x-ray, we are concerned about how the young patient recovers and functions in the future.

“Three successful surgeries have been performed in the past month demonstrating improved precision for surgeons with dramatic reductions in theatre time, helping to minimise time under anaesthesia and blood loss.

“We hope this approach will lead to better clinical outcomes in these young patients.”

ARC CMIT Director Peter Lee from Melbourne School of Engineering said CMIT would bring together PhD and early career researchers with industry and government, to support translation of research into new products, processes and solutions.

“The CMIT ARC training centre will equip a new generation of engineers to work with clinicians, to have a good understanding of regulations and gain experience in entrepreneurship and innovation,” Professor Lee said.

“Compared to other Australian industry, med-tech is young, so the opportunity for research and development is great. CMIT is one of the largest partnerships of industry, hospitals and universities; an ideal environment for training.”

Griffith’s other ARC CMIT project aims to improve outcomes after surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, a very common sports injury, by tackling the complications of harvesting hamstring tendon for the ACL repair.

Project lead Dr David Saxby said they would look to regenerate the hamstring harvest sites to prevent pain and weakness and subsequent hamstring and ACL injuries by seeding the tissue with the patient’s own blood plasma.

“Our industry partner, Arthrex, has developed next generation platelet rich plasma (PRP) technology and we’ll be applying it to see how much tendon regeneration we can achieve so that patients have more strength in flexing their knee and better post-operative function as compared to conventional best practice surgery performed by one of Australia’s leading knee surgeons Prof Chris Vertullo.”

Griffith University research partners in ARC CMIT include The University of Melbourne, Flinders University and Epworth Healthcare. There are a further 18 CMIT partners from industry, academia, hospitals and government sectors.

“The ARC CMIT research partnerships are incredibly valuable because each institution or facility involved brings with it their unique expertise and knowledge,” said Professor Lloyd.

“Griffith is highly regarded for its world-class modelling of the neuromusculoskeletal system, creating digital twins, or what we refer to as ‘personalised digital humans’, so we can customise training, personalise surgeries and tailor rehabilitation to the individual.

“The ultimate goal of ARC CMIT is to support research translation that leads to new best practice processes, products, clinical procedures and solutions and we are incredibly excited to be part of this journey.”