• Aesculap Implant Systems (Aventura, Florida) reported that Dr. Rolando Garcia Jr. of Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, has performed the first implants of the Activ-L Artificial Disc, being investigated for the treatment of single-level degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine that has been unresponsive to prior conservative treatment of at least six months duration. The design incorporates a center core intended to allow both translation and rotation and to more closely approximate physiological motion. The study, being conducted under an FDA Investigational Device Exemption, is a prospective, randomized, single-masked, controlled, multi-center trial enrolling an estimated 387 subjects and comparing the Activ-L artificial disc to the Synthes Spine ProDisc-L total disc replacement and the DePuy spine Charit . Aesculap makes artificial implants.

• ASM International (Materials Park, Ohio) and Granta Design (Cambridge, UK) reported that they have introduced a materials database created to support medical device design and intended to reduce many aspects of R&D expenses and accelerate the development of new devices. The "Materials for Medical Devices Database: Cardiovascular Module" marks the first time that researchers and designers will have access to a comprehensive and authoritative source of mechanical, physical, biological response and drug compatibility properties for the materials and coatings used in cardiovascular device applications, ASM said. The module includes a presentation of interrelated information, traceable to primary sources, including expert reviews and citations to published literature, FDA device approvals information, manufacturers' datasheets, standards and web sites.

Human neural stem cells, developed by Neuralstem (Rockville, Maryland), transplanted into rats with spinal cord damage turned into neurons and made extensive synaptic contact with damaged host motor neurons, a paper published today in PLoS MEDICINE reported. The study was conducted at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, led researchers to conclude that the restoration of spinal cord circuitry may be more realistic than previously thought. "The spinal cord has previously been considered inhospitable for neural stem cell transplants," said Dr. Karl Johe, scientific founder and chairman of Neuralstem and a co-author of the study. "They either didn't survive well or didn't make contact with the surrounding tissue. However, the results here disprove that notion. The high quality of neuronal differentiation and synaptic contact was consistent across different kinds of spinal cord injuries. When combined with our earlier spinal cord work in rats with ALS, we now believe that the spinal cord is an effective site for therapeutic stem cell intervention." Neuralstem is a biotherapeutics company using human neural stem cell technology to create cures for diseases of the central nervous system.

• Osiris Therapeutics (Baltimore) reports six-month interim results in its evaluation of Chondrogen for the regeneration of meniscus in the knee. Chondrogen met its primary endpoint, demonstrating product safety. The trial did not demonstrate that Chondrogen resulted in a statistically significant increase in the volume of meniscus as compared to placebo; however, an improvement in baseline cartilage and joint condition was noted in patients treated with the stem cell drug that was not seen in patients that received placebo. Osiris Therapeutics is a stem cell therapeutic company focused on products to treat medical conditions in the inflammatory, orthopedic and cardiovascular areas.

• Scient'x USA (Maitland, Florida) reported receiving FDA 510(k) clearance to market its new Antelys GX PEEK VBR system, developed for the surgical requirements of lumbar arthrodesis using an anterior surgical approach. Antelys GX is an addition to the other Scient'x PEEK VBR systems, including the Ellys, Corelys, Aurys, and Antelus VBR System. The implant offers a smaller footprint to conform to the natural vertebral body anatomy, while still providing optimum contact area between the graft and the verebral endplates. Scient'x USA makes spinal devices.