Face-jaw-teeth transplants are one of the most complicated surgeries due to differences between the donor and recipient. This month, the United States Patent and Trademark Office approved a patent submitted by a Johns Hopkins research team for a new way to perform facial transplants.
The Computer Assisted Planning and Execution System (CAPE) method aids surgeons in planning and performing craniomaxillofacial surgery—a procedure that rebuilds deformities to the head, skull, neck, face and jaws. CAPE creates a representation of donor and recipient skeletal fragments and determines surgical cutting planes on a computer readable image. By doing so, it enables doctors to accurately align facial features.
“Our work began as a mission to create a computer-assisted planning and execution system for improving outcomes related to complex facial transplantation, but soon it evolved into many more exciting, everyday applications like Neurosurgical Procedures and Computer-assisted Cranioplasty” says Chad Gordon, DO, director of both the Neuroplastic and Reconstructive Surgery program and the Johns Hopkins Center for Neuroplastic Surgery and the primary inventor of the system.
Gordon’s work dates back to 2011 through a collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He credits Landon King, MD, executive vice dean for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, for supporting the project. “Landon was very kind in helping me navigate some early struggles with our large animal swine studies used for translational investigation – and for that, I am forever grateful.” Gordon says. The system was initially tested on plastic models and a swine.
Funding for his work was provided, in part, by an Accelerated Translational Incubator Pilot (ATIP) award. “By having the unique support of Dan Ford (vice dean for clinical investigation and ICTR Director), Linda Post (Research Navigator) and the entire ATIP network, we were able to provide structure and cohesiveness to a multidisciplinary team spread across three campuses,” says Gordon. He credits the award for making technology testing feasible.
The patent is licensed to a Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) supported company based locally in Hunt Valley, Maryland, Longeviti Neuro Solutions. It will generate future revenue for all three parties, Johns Hopkins University, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, involved in the patent.
Co-inventing teams include Johns Hopkins University, the United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy, and the United States of America as represented by the Secretary of Defense.