The University of Minnesota and Summit Medical of St. Paul and the University of Minnesota say they have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin marketing to surgeons and medical clinics a new, non-invasive device to support jaw fracture recovery based on UofM research.

Minne Ties Agile MMF, based on technology developed by Dr. Alan Johnson during his time as a senior innovation fellow at the UofM, uses a collection of sutures inserted between the teeth to securely and evenly fix the jaw in place to promote proper recovery. The sutures can be applied more quickly and with less discomfort than traditional, wire-based methods.

“It is extremely rewarding to be a part of a disruptive technology that is redefining the industry and making a positive impact on patients, surgeons and hospital teams,” said Kevin McIntosh, president of Summit Medical. “Working with the University of Minnesota and Dr. Johnson…we are thrilled to collaborate with their team and now to help introduce this device to the market.”

Minne Ties sutures have a smooth clasp head, are blunt-tipped, more comfortable than metal wiring, and promise to reduce gum irritation and dental hygiene problems. A surgeon can apply the device more quickly and safely, and may even be able to apply it in a clinic setting, potentially reducing the costs and delays that can accompany a scheduled visit to the operating room.

Jaw fractures most commonly result from blunt force trauma, such as from vehicle crashes, sports injuries and physical assault. The jaw bone is the second most fractured bone in the face, and such fractures may take up to six weeks to fully recover, depending on the severity of the injury.

The conventional method for securing a broken jaw in place to promote healing requires metal wiring that can lead to discomfort, abrasions on the lips and gums, and gingivitis. These wires are sharp and can pose a safety threat for surgeons.

In 2014, Summit Medical, Inc. licensed use of the technology for further development through the U’s Office for Technology Commercialization, which promotes the transfer of University-developed technologies to industry partners.

Johnson, now a Grand Forks, N.D., head and neck surgeon, developed the technology behind Minne Ties in 2012. Johnson, who attended the UofM medical school and served his residency at Minnesota, was part of the Innovation Fellows Program at the University’s Medical Devices Center (MDC).  The invention ofJohnson, who worked with other collaborators at the medical school, is the first MDC technology navigate the complex path to FDA clearance and reach the market.

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