Bone cement technology wins innovation award

University of Limerick invention helps broken bones heal more quickly

A team from the University of Limerick has developed a new type of cement that cuts down on the time needed for major orthopaedic operations and helps broken and damaged bones to bond more quickly.

The team, led by Dr Eamonn de Barra, last night received one of the America-Ireland Chamber of Commerce's US-Ireland Innovation Awards at a dinner in Dublin attended by 700 guests.

The cement mixes together with a mineral called hydroxyapatite, which is found naturally in bones and teeth. The material can then be used instantly in surgical operations, cutting down on waiting time for surgeons.

The new cement, which is now to be sold globally, has been used successfully in 4,000 operations. Already, it has been accepted by a number of major US hospitals, said Dr de Barra.


The University of Limerick team collaborated on research and development with Stryker Orthopaedics, a US-headquartered medical technology company, which has a facility in Limerick.

DeBarra's team won the award in the Higher Education category offered by the American-Ireland Chamber of Commerce, which included nominees from Trinity College Dublin and the Tyndall National Institute in Cork.

The multinational Company Category was won by IBM Research Ireland for improving medical care for vulnerable populations using data, analytics and cognitive computing, while the SME category was won by 3D4Medical, which has, said the judges, transformed medical learning and practice through cloud-based technology.

Speaking at last night's dinner, James O'Connor, president of the American Chamber, said Ireland could become the leading base in the European Union for US multinationals wanting to sell in the EU.

“As the sole remaining English-speaking member of the EU with a common-law system, at the centre of the EU-US relationship, with a skilled multicultural workforce, Ireland has the opportunity to become the unrivalled home of US business investment” he said.