Askel Healthcare’s COPLA® implant on EVT, the national public television network of Estonia

Today our COPLA® implant was shown on national TV in Estonia as Dr. Kaspar Tootsi and his patient, who was the first patient operated as a part of our clinical pilot trial, were interviewed to the Estonian TV program Ringvaade.

Ringvaade is a highly respected daily Estonian television show broadcasted on ETV, the national public television network of Estonia.

Links to the recording and English translation can be found below.

“Ringvaade”, Askel Healthcare, 4.04.2023

Marko Reikop, “Ringvaade” presenter: At the beginning of this year, an operation was performed at the Tartu University Hospital in which a piece of novel biomaterial was successfully inserted into a knee joint. This was the first such operation in the world. This piece may only look like a small piece of cloth, but the gentleman whose knee this was can now walk and talk again. Well, his bad knee had nothing to do with his speech — but he is walking again. But why was such an operation conducted in Estonia if this material itself was invented in Finland?

Kaspar Tootsi, a doctor at the Tartu University Clinic: Yes, indeed, this is the result of a scientific study. Finnish researchers have been conducting research development work for many years and found that once preclinical studies had been completed, there was a chance to start developing it on humans. The planning of this clinical research has been going on for a couple of years, and in January of this year, we reached the point at which we could perform the first operation in Estonia, at the Tartu University Hospital.

Marko Reikop: I actually have this piece of material here. It is sterile, it can still be used safely. It really looks like a piece of tissue, like someone took a small particle from the tissue. As you can see, it’s so small. So, do I understand correctly that large, complicated knee implants or whatever they happen to be, are now gone and can be replaced with just a little piece like this?

Kaspar Tootsi: Yes, in terms of its consistency, the material resembles felt. But it is an implant developed to repair or treat cartilage defects. What makes this Copla implant special is that several layers can be placed on top of each other. It can be tailored during surgery to exactly match the shape of the defect. One of the most special features is that, after the operation, the patient can immediately start applying full bodyweight on the operated knee. Most other implants that belong to the same treatment group require walking on crutches for about two months and only a partial load is allowed. So, Copla creates conditions for a significantly faster recovery.

Marko Reikop: Excellent! Well, it’s actually very easy to do as I understand. You cut out a small piece of felt and put it onto the patient’s knee. What does it cost anyway? It appears to be relatively cheap. I wouldn’t spend any money on it at all. It could be available for free, right?

Kaspar Tootsi: Yes, I have also been interested in the price from the company that produces it, but since it can only be used for research purposes at the moment, it hasn’t even been priced yet.

Marko Reikop: So how is the patient doing? Why did you dare to go for this operation if you knew that it was the first of its kind in the world?

Marten Murrand, patient: I dared. Before the operation, I had been torturing myself for a long time. I’ve been doing sports all my life and I wanted to quickly start training again. I trusted the orthopedic surgeons and had my knee operated.

Marko Reikop: You are only 20 years old. Why did your knees hurt? Why did your knees need hospitalisation or surgery at all?

Marten Murrand: It’s hard to say, but I think the knee just wore out from over-training.

Marko Reikop: So, sport is the devil as I understand?

Marten Murrand: Well, it seems so, yes! At least in my case.

Marko Reikop: What does this mean for you now? The operation took place on January 6th. Right now you’re walking on your own two feet. I didn’t even see that you were limping. Do you currently feel like a sick person or a healthy person?

Marten Murrand: Now, I’m completely healthy. I’ve gently been able to start training, and I only used crutches for two weeks. Right now, everything is very well.

Marko Reikop: Well, how do you feel? Which leg was operated on?

Marten Murrand: My left knee.

Marko Reikop: Can you move and lift your leg? Do you feel like you’ve got nine layers of felt in your knee?

Marten Murrand: Not anymore. It is still a little weaker than the right knee. But otherwise, it doesn’t impact my everyday life.

Marko Reikop: So, how do you feel that you have performed such a unique operation in the world? That the eyes of the entire medical community are on you, and that such a thing happened here in Estonia?

Kaspar Tootsi: It is definitely a good feeling because it is the successful work of such a nice research group that we were able to… well let’s say, it is an international study. Swedish and Finnish scientists and surgeons were also involved, but as we were the first to perform it in Estonia…

Marko Reikop: And successfully! How did you even know how to do this when no one in the world has ever done such a specific procedure? How did you even prepare for this? How did you know what you had to do?

Kaspar Tootsi: A training in Finland preceded the operation.

Marko Reikop: Does this mean that in the future, all of our knee and elbow joints and hip bones …. we will no longer have to put these big metal lumps in there, but we will take a small piece of cloth and everything will be good as new?

Kaspar Tootsi: It may turn out that way in the future. At this point, we’re still far from that. Copla implant is basically a matrix or “scaffold” in English. It is simply a truss where a person’s own stem cells go and nestle and fill the defect with their own cells.

Marko Reikop: After observing patients three months later, what has the result been? What do you see there and is everything exactly as you’d hoped?

Kaspar Tootsi: At the moment, I’m absolutely satisfied with this result. The main point of this research is to investigate the safety of the procedure and if everything works as it has so far, then we can proceed with the evaluation of efficacy.

Marko Reikop: How long will it take for it to really become so-called everyday material that everyone can use? That it reaches all of those in need.

Kaspar Tootsi: It is certainly not suitable for everyone and for all diseases. At this point, it is only usable for one specific defect, which is on the femur, a single defect. The joint must not have osteoarthritis, and must not have other chronic joint diseases or inflammation. I personally think that it will never be a suitable treatment method in the case of osteoarthritis. Copla certainly has its own niche and is better suited to traumatic, isolated injuries of cartilage,minor cartilage injuries.

Marko Reikop: What would you like to achieve in sports? Now, when you have that knee joint replaced, can you achieve the same things as if you were completely healthy, without this surgery?

Marten Murrand: I actually left tennis behind before the operation. On a daily basis, I still try to exercise and find some kind of sport. There is no plan for top-level sport.

Marko Reikop: What sports do you play?

Marten Murrand: At the moment, I’m still playing tennis. I do kickboxing and running.

Marko Reikop: Which sports has the doctor told you you can and cannot do?

Marten Murrand: At the moment, it’s been pretty light, only using a bike or a rowing machine. But I’ve been able to play tennis gently as well.

Marko Reikop: Are you worried that he’s gone to play tennis again?

Kaspar Tootsi: To some extent, maybe yes. Since it is the first use of this kind, we’d prefer to be careful and rather take things a bit more conservatively. We’re closely monitoring the situation because it’s important to get that maximum function out of the joint for the patient.

Marko Reikop: Excellent! Thank you so much for coming in today and sharing your story with us!


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