A patent developed by Narendra Dahotre, University Distinguished Research Professor in UNT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, which will allow orthopaedic surgeons to operate with new precision has been licensed by the Australian Institute of Robotic Orthopaedics.
Dahotre’s research led him to develop a method for using a laser to cut, drill and shape bone, replacing the current technology of drills, saws, osteotomes (chisels) and burs. The technology is being developed for use in humans with the expected value of allowing for greater accuracy and quality of bone surface preparation which are key factors in long term implant survivability and good clinical outcomes.
“When surgeons replace your damaged joint in traditional surgeries, they use conventional tools that are similar to those used in carpentry, and the process is dependent on their skill,” says Dahotre, who recently was named interim associate vice president of research and innovation at UNT. “No matter how skillful the surgeon is, it’s a brute process and healthy tissues surrounding the joint become damaged, which leads to prolonged and painful recovery time.”
Dahotre’s patented technology, laser-assisted machining of hard tissue and bones, is projected to cause minimal damage to surrounding tissue and bones, lessen the amount of blood patients lose during operations, and speed up surgery and recovery times.
“When the U.S. Patent Office validates the technology, they are saying it is an actual invention that can work. To then have that technology, developed by a UNT researcher, licensed to a international commercial partner, is monumental,” says Michael Rondelli, associate vice president for innovation and commercialization in UNT’s Office of Research and Innovation.
The Australian Institute of Robotic Orthopaedics is a private, independent medical research organization in Perth owned by two orthopaedic surgeons and a peri-operative orthopaedic rehabilitation expert. In addition to licensing Dahotre’s technology, they are funding his research for four years and have hosted him during a six-month faculty development leave from UNT in late 2016.
“We need many other experts, like physicians and electrical engineers, to fully implement this technology and take it before the Australian Food and Drug Administration,” Dahotre says. “AIRO is bringing in the necessary experts and enabling us to work together to develop technology that can be used in actual operating rooms.”
This licensing agreement is the first time patented technology developed by a UNT researcher has been licensed.
“Narendra Dahotre’s research is so exciting and the fact that he has jumped into the marketplace is impressive,” says Tom McCoy, UNT’s vice president for research and innovation, who met with Dahotre in June for a recognition ceremony. “I am really proud that he is the first person at UNT to have a patented technology licensed, and that he has the opportunity to continue working on the product’s development.”
Seven of Dahotre’s 16 patents from his previous university have been licensed and he is continuously conducting research on other ways lasers can transform the materials used.
“Narendra’s an expert at figuring out solutions to really hard problems,” Rondelli says. “His research, even though it’s fundamental, can impact the world.”
The licensing of Dahotre’s patent is a large achievement for UNT and sets the technology transfer groundwork for other faculty researchers.
“The Office of Innovation and Commercialization is not just doing one deal a year,” Rondelli says. “We’re working on multiple projects and supporting all of our faculty across the breadth of the university. We believe that our faculty across all of our disciplines offer ways to make the world better. The Office of Innovation and Commercialization is here to help transfer the research done on campus to impact our lives for the betterment of society.”