Sonoma Orthopedics wins first patent

Five or six to follow, says founder of bone implant device maker

[caption id="attachment_28373" align="alignright" width="360" caption=" Sonoma Orthopedic fracture repair stents hold the bone in place from the inside, minimizing surgery and expediting healing"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – Sonoma Orthopedics has won a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its core technology, the first of several, said founder and COO Charles Nelson.

The maker of minimally invasive bone fixation devices has already received FDA approval for two products – one for mending wrist fractures and another for broken collarbones – and is marketing them in the U.S. and South Africa.

“The patent validates our technology,” said Mr. Nelson. “It also opens the doors of the patent office. We’ll be applying for patents on each of our products as we develop and have them approved by the FDA.”

Sonoma Orthopedics makes a flexible stent and delivery system for complicated fractures.

A complicated break requires the cutting of tendons, ligaments and muscles, and use of plates and screws in addition to a cast to immobilize the joint during healing. Even a simple break requires a cast.

"Twenty-one percent of traditional methods for treating broken wrists have fair to poor results," said Sonoma Orthopedics President and CEO Glen Coleman. "The bone doesn't heal straight or the patient never recovers full mobility."

The SOP device is placed through a small incision into the hollow cavity inside the bone. Casting isn't needed and physical therapy can begin immediately, he said.

Fractures occur most often in the upper body, so Sonoma Orthopedics initially focused on the wrist and clavicle. Now under development is a device for the mid-shaft humerus, expected to be launched in 2011.

“After that we’ll focus on the foot and ankle,” said Mr. Nelson.

Founded in 2006 in Larkfield, 31-employee Sonoma Orthopedics expanded last year into a 10,000-square-foot space on Westwind Boulevard near the Sonoma County-Charles M. Schulz Airport.

Several other medical device makers are nearby, including TriVascular, Medlogics and Direct Flow Medical.

The company has raised about $25 million in several rounds. Mr. Nelson declined to disclose revenues.

According to Sonoma Orthopedics Vice President of Sales Guy Williamson, the market for fracture repair is more than $2 billion.

“Minimally invasive fracture fixation represents an untapped area. Most other areas of orthopedics have been moving toward least-invasive procedures for quite a while. We are the first to bring this advancement to complex fracture repair,” he said.

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