A research group at Uppsala University, Sweden has developed a new responsive coating for implants used in surgery to improve their integration into bone and to prevent rejection. Neutron scattering experiments at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France have shown how a protein that promotes bone growth binds to this surface and can be released in a controlled way.
Orthopaedic and dental implants must last for many years. Success for these surgical components depends on integration into adjacent bone tissue. Gels made by modifying hyaluronan, a large biological molecule, can be used to coat implants. A new paper in Advanced Engineering Materials shows that the coated titanium surfaces can bind protein molecules which promote bone formation. These can be released slowly once the surface comes in contact with a solution of calcium ions. This process would stimulate the growth of bone on the implant.
The gel layers, a few millionths of a millimetre thick, were characterised using neutron reflection at the ILL, a technique that provides a detailed picture of what happens at a surface. In their new paper the research team showed that the protein, BMP-2, that encourages bone growth was bound to the gel. They also demonstrated that the layer of protein was stable in water but could be released slowly by adding solutions containing calcium, a process that was observed in real time using neutron reflection to track the amount of protein at the surface.
The research group has now launched trials of similar materials for metal implants in rabbits. These ongoing studies are made in collaboration with the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala and they provide a step towards transfer of the results to clinical applications.
'Interdisciplinary research and partnerships allow advanced analytical tools to be applied to important but difficult medical and scientific challenges. This exciting work comes from
|Contact: Adrian Rennie|