Doctors Serge and Georges Camprasse are the promoters and inventors of the use of mother-of-pearl in medicine, veterinary and human surgery.
In 1983, they conceptualised and set out the criteria conditioning the use of mother-of-pearl from a number of bivalve mollusc species. It can be used as the biomaterial Bionacre®, in veterinary and human medicine and surgery. The Doctors Camprasse have unique knowledge about the scientific, technical, clinical and surgical aspects of this innovative biomaterial, and a full command of all the associated operational considerations (sourcing, design and production of machines and systems).
Somewhat unconventionally, the Doctors Camprasse began their work with applied rather than fundamental research, in order to gain knowledge geared around their practical aim of using a natural biomimetic biomaterial.
Births of Georges and Serge Camprasse (twin brothers) in Guadeloupe.
Both brothers gained graduate certificates [Certificats d’Etudes Supérieures] in Physics, Chemistry, Animal and Plant Biology at the Jussieu Faculty of Science. One (Serge) went on to become Regional Director of pharmaceutical laboratory Biosedra, while the other (Georges) was appointed Head of Medical Representation at the Leurquin laboratory.
After their military service at the French Armed Forces Medical Branch [service de Santé des Armées], they joined the Faculty of Medicine in rue des Saints-Pères, Paris, where they each gained a Doctor of Dental Surgery diploma. They then entered private practice, and were immediately appointed stomatology consultants by the Hôpitaux de Paris hospital network. They practised, not least, at the Hôtel-Dieu, Hérold and Trousseau state hospitals, as well as in private hospitals.
During their private practice and hospital consultancy work, they had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with a technique that was fashionable at the time: the use of dental implants made of titanium, as made more mainstream by Professor Brånemark of Sweden. However, they noted that despite demonstrating perfect biocompatibility, titanium implants discoloured the bone and surrounding tissue owing to their metallic composition. Moreover, since the gum is not flush with an implant (as it is with a tooth), a chronic disorder (implantitis) arises, which eventually causes the implant to work loose.
It was during a visit to their parents’ home that the Doctors Camprasse noticed a pearl oyster shell in a glass-fronted cabinet in the family home. Its appearance and colour reminded them of tooth enamel. It was then that they had the idea of using mother-of-pearl as an alternative raw material to titanium, to make implants. They started bibliographic research work on pearl-producing molluscs (Pinctadines and Tridacnes) and their biotope, physical and chemical composition, method of reproduction and cultivation. They acquired shells of several species, and examined the feasibility of implants, medical devices and bone substitutes.
At the time, the development and trialling of new medical devices was governed by the Huriet Act [loi Huriet]. Following a pre-clinical assessment and in vitro testing, the Act allowed for critical clinical case studies in hospitals. These were subject to an application being submitted to the Ethics Committee and a favourable response being issued by the Consultative Committee for the Protection of Persons taking part in Biomedical Research [Comité Consultatif pour la Protection des Personnes se prêtant à la Recherche Biomédicale]. The device was validated against criteria by the Ministry of Health, which granted it a homologation number and allowed it to be passed for sale and entered in the cross-ministerial healthcare services price list [Tarif Interministériel des Prestations Sanitaires – TIPS). This is how the Doctors Camprasse came to carry out their first pre-clinical cases – first privately, then at the French National Veterinary School’s Biomedical Research Centre [Centre de Recherche Biomédicale de l’Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire] in Maisons-Alfort. They filed the first patent concerning the orthopaedic use of mother-of-pearl as a bone substitute, secured its registration and set up the Biocorex company.
- Televised press conference at the French natural history museum [Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle]
- TV reports on French channels TF1, Antenne 2 and Canal+
- Articles in the French press: Le Point, L’Express, Santé Magazine, France Antilles
First Paris Academy of Sciences [Académie des Sciences de Paris] publication by the Doctors Camprasse, prefaced by palaeontologist Professor Yves Coppens.
The Doctors Camprasse were appointed Professors at the Mediterranean College of Oral Implantology [Collège Méditerranéen d’Implantologie Orale].
- Co-authoring of articles in international publications Calcified Tissue, Tissue and Cell and Clinical Material
- Participation in numerous national and international congresses
- First trips to observe the biotopes of the Pinctada and Tridacne in Australia and the Philippines
- First critical clinical casesin human subjects at the Antoine Béclère (Clamart) university hospital
Doctor Philippe Cottin, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Antoine Béclère university hospital, called upon the Doctors Camprasse for the use of their Bionacre® biomaterial in the repair of a 15-centimetre femur bone loss. This request came after the bone was shattered into small fragments, following two failed attempts at autologous bone grafts and a decision to resort to amputation. Four months after the surgery: structural and morphological ad integrum reconstitution of the patient’s femur, and normal use of the leg.
Other critical clinical cases were able to demonstrate the benefits of using Bionacre®, such as occurrences of lumbosacral arthrodesis, humeral pseudarthrosis with sepsis and necrosis of the head of the femur.
In December 1994, the Doctors Serge and Georges Camprasse were elected members of the New York Academy of Sciences, and contributed towards several academic publications. They continued their research during trips to observe the biotopes of bivalve molluscs in Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand and Mauritius.
Furthering the pursuit of their research work, they experimented with the use of mother-of-pearl in other disciplines: dermatology, nutraceuticals and cosmetology. The French Ministry of Research showed interest in their work, and proposed a collaboration with them. Many of their fellow medical practitioners (surgeons, dermatologists, clinicians, etc.) reached out to them with a view to broader collaboration in other disciplines. Not least, veterinary hospitals reached out to them concerning critical clinical cases in horses, such as a torn-off hoof, ischaemic necrosis of the sternal plate, regeneration of the fetlock following failed surgical treatment and fracture of orthopaedic equipment.
Joel Drai, Chairman of MEGA DENTAL (Europe’s leading provider of supplies and equipment to stomatologists and dental surgeons) and an associate of Henry Schein (a worldwide distributor of medical supplies), met the Doctors Camprasse. With their support, he decided to set up MEGA BIOPHARMA Bone & Soft Tissues Engineering, a research and development centre where the Doctors Camprasse pursue their work. The latter has come to fruition through the filing of new patents in an array of disciplines.