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Defense Agency Solicits Proposals for ‘Fracture Putty’

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2008 – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is reaching out to civilian firms with hopes of developing a new product that could dramatically aid the healing of servicemembers who suffer traumatic battlefield wounds such as compound bone fractures.

DARPA officials are looking for agencies to develop a "fracture putty," or a dynamic, putty-like material which, when packed around a compound bone fracture, would provide full load-bearing capabilities within days, aid bone growth, and eventually dissolve into harmless by-products as normal bone grows.

Compound fractures are difficult to treat, often requiring multiple surgeries and long healing and rehabilitation times, DARPA officials explained, and resulting amputations are not uncommon. Officials called current treatments using bone screws, plates and rods “deficient,” and said the treatments themselves can lead to further complications.

Officials want to develop a putty that will get a patient up and moving again while the bone heals normally, reduce rehabilitation time, and eliminate infection and secondary fractures.

It is likely, officials said, the research and development of the putty will cross over many technological and medical disciplines.

"Fracture putty represents the ultimate convergence of materials science, mechanics, and orthopedics," DARPA Program Manager Mitchell Zakin said. "We want to hear from potential performers with expertise in chemistry, biomaterials, adhesives, mechanics, theoretical modeling of dynamic systems under complex mechanical stress, biology of bone, animal models of bone trauma, clinical orthopedics, and orthopedic surgery and engineering."

Officials said developing the putty will not happen soon, but they expect to have a contract in place this fall for the first phase of the research. DARPA will host a conference in Arlington, Va., July 1 for researchers interested in the program. Responses to the solicitation are due July 29. Multiple awards are anticipated, officials said.

(From a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency news release.)

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Teaming Opportunities for Fracture Putty
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